"It's a very tough tournament, great players and every single round is difficult - everyone wants to win and stay as long as possible in this beautiful place Acapulco," Mladenovic said after the match.
"I've been fighting through all matches, and conditions are very difficult here because it's hot and humid, but I'm enjoying my time here in Acapulco and I'm excited to be in a final."
? WTA (@WTA) March 3, 2017
The pair's only previous meeting came right here in Acapulco back in 2014, where McHale emerged victorious in straight sets over the Frenchwoman and made a run to the final.
The story unfolded differently on Friday night as Mladenovic employed her high-risk, high-reward game. She broke early at 3-2 to establish a foothold, but struggled to serve out the set in the blustery Acapulco conditions.
McHale took advantage of a Mladenovic double fault and pounced on some vulnerable second serves to finally get the break back. But No.2 seed didn't panic, wrenching a break right back and serving out the set to love.
McHale imposed her game more in the second set; she cut down on her unforced errors and started to dictate rallies with her forehand as Mladenovic's net game, usually a strong part of her strategy, began to break down.
? WTA (@WTA) March 4, 2017
The American grabbed the break in the final game to take the set and send the match to a decider.
After trading breaks to start the final set, Mladenovic took command once again, backing up her strong serve with a booming forehand to keep McHale on the back foot during the Frenchwoman's service games. She rattled off three games in a row to close out the match and book her spot into her first Acapulco final.
"I just have to focus on myself tomorrow," Mladenovic said. "I'm going to just enjoy today's win, recover and do work with my physio.
"That's the most important part for me, because today I hung in there a lot. I gave a lot of energy in another long match with tough conditions, so my first goal is to try to recover and be 100% tomorrow. I'm sure it'll be a great final."