EASTBOURNE, England - Tamira Paszek continued to revive her season at the AEGON International on Friday, pulling off a 46 75 64 comeback victory against No.4 seed Marion Bartoli to move into her very first Premier final.
Paszek, who was already in her first Premier semifinal, lost the first set then was down 4-0 in the second set and 2-0 in the third but fought back each time, eventually beating the No.9-ranked Frenchwoman in three hours, five minutes.
"Early in the second set I had my chances, but with the wind things just weren't working out," Paszek said. "But I just tried to stay there. I knew I was at the same level, and that I just had to wait for my chances again. Chances came.
"It feels amazing to be in the final. I love Eastbourne. My godparents live here, so for me it already feels like home. It's a pleasure coming back every year."
Paszek already showed signs of her grass court prowess last year, when she made her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon. "We have a pretty green country at home, it's probably that," the Austrian joked. "No - it just suits my game, same as hardcourt. I love fast surfaces. I just enjoy the grass. It's a special atmosphere to come here and have the different shoes, and all in white."
Things haven't been easy for Paszek recently, however. She came here with a 2-13 record on the year, which includes 11 opening round losses. "Coming into Eastbourne I didn't have a lot of confidence I'd say," Paszek commented. "I had a lot of injuries. For the first time in a while I was able to practice two weeks continuously during Strasbourg and French Open, and I knew I had to keep working and do my job, that it wouldn't come in a day or two.
"Now I've been working a lot on my fitness, my game, different kinds of things. It's just lovely to be back on court and healthy and just winning matches."
Bartoli was disappointed but very gracious towards Paszek. "I lost the match so I can't really say I'm happy about it, but on the other hand I really felt like I tried my hardest and there wasn't much I could have done better," Bartoli said. "And Tamira played really well. She deserved to win. She really fought hard and came back to win the match. Of course I'm disappointed, but I tried my hardest."
And she'll need to do it again, as No.8-ranked, No.5-seeded Angelique Kerber raced into the final too, taking the first seven games of her match with Klara Zakopalova and closing the Czech out after a closer second set, 60 63.
"I came here a week ago and the plan was to have a lot of matches before Wimbledon, so it feels very good," Kerber said. "I can't get any more matches than this now, so I'll just focus on my last match here and then on Wimbledon.
"It's my first time reaching a final on grass, and it's a big thing for me."
Kerber and Paszek have an identical 2-1 career record in WTA finals, though Kerber is the only one who has been to a Premier final before (winning Paris [Indoors] this year). The German and the Austrian are playing for the first time.