WASHINGTON, DC, USA - Svetlana Kuznetsova will contest her first WTA final in over a year on Sunday, as the Russian defeated Andrea Petkovic in Saturday's first semifinal at the Citi Open, 6-2, 6-2.
The former World No.2 will feature in the showpiece match at a tournament for the first time since the BNP Paribas Open last spring, where she finished runner-up to compatriot Elena Vesnina.
It will also be Kuznetsova's second appearance in the final of the International-level event in Washington, D.C., having won the title in 2014.
The current World No.128 finished off her quarterfinal against Yulia Putintseva earlier in the day on Saturday, and largely proved the sharper of the two players as she rounded into form over the course of 82 minutes in the first semifinal of the day.
"I didn't expect such a good result so fast, because I haven't been playing so well after my injury, after my surgery, so it took me some time to get back. I did some good preparation before this tournament, and I'm feeling great," Kuznetsova said after the match.
"I think I did rush [back] a little bit. I got injured almost a year ago at the US Open, and after that, it took me time to decide to get my first surgery, and after my surgery, it took me time to recover. I wasn't ready 100 percent, and I'm just starting to build my fitness and my game now."
Petkovic saved three match points in her quarterfinal victory over No.2 seed Belinda Bencic, which was the lone quarterfinal match to be completed in full on Friday, and the German started quickly out of the gates as she sought her first appearance in the Citi Open final.
The former World No.9 won 10 of the first 11 points of the match as she was the first to break serve, looking to win her fifth straight encounter against the two-time major champion dating back to 2010.
However, she would not win another game in the set, and grew more erratic off the ground as the set progressed. Kuznetsova won six straight games, taking advantage of 15 unforced errors from the German's racquet, and went 3-for-4 on break point chances to win just her second set in the last eight played against the Russian.
Kuznetsova's momentum continued into the second set, as her run of games extended to eight, to establish an early break advantage.
She never trailed in the second set, and added an insurance break in the fifth game of the set on her fourth chance en route to getting over the finish line.
Petkovic made a late push in the match's final stages, as she came through a battle on her own serve to end the Russian's run of four straight games and force her to serve for the match.
In the last game, Kuznetsova faced break point for the first time since the middle of the opening set, and ultimately saved a pair opportunities for Petkovic to pocket consecutive games before serving out the win on her fourth match point.
The Russian tallied 21 winners to just 14 unforced errors over the course of the win, while Petkovic accumulated 32 unforced errors to just 14 winners overall.
Over the course of four matches thus far at the Citi Open, Kuznetsova has lost just 14 games, and has not lost more than two games in any of the eight sets she's played.
The former World No.2 will look to win her first title since triumphing on home soil at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow in 2016 against the winner of the second semifinal between No.7 seed Donna Vekic and China's Zheng Saisai.
"I'll see whoever will win that match, and just prepare my tactics," Kuznetsova said. "They're two very different players, and both of them are going to be really difficult opponents for the final, but I'm just looking forward to playing."