BOGOTÁ, Colombia - In an all-South American match-up between first-time WTA semifinalists it was Argentina's Paula Ormaechea who made it past Brazil's Teliana Pereira at the Copa Claro Colsanitas on Saturday, moving through to her first WTA final - and next up is a mighty challenge indeed.
Ormaechea won a grinding 54-minute opening set then battled back from a break down in the second set to dispatch Brazilian qualifier Pereira in the first semifinal match of the day, 76(5) 63.
Before this, Ormaechea's best WTA result was a quarterfinal finish right here in Bogotá last year.
"It was a very difficult match but I've worked so hard and have been so patient," Ormaechea said afterwards. "It's my first WTA final and I'm very happy. I'll try my best in the final tomorrow."
Pereira's week was a breakthrough - she wasn't just the first Brazilian to reach a WTA quarterfinal since Bogotá in 1999 (Vanessa Menga) but went one step further to become the first Brazilian to reach a WTA semifinal since Sao Paolo in 1990 (Luciana Corsato). And the timing couldn't have been more perfect - the WTA makes its long-awaited return to Brazil this coming week in Florianopolis.
The second semifinal of the day saw No.1 seed Jelena Jankovic win a two-hour, 30-minute grinder against Karin Knapp. Jankovic rebounded from losing the first set with a very strong set and a half - she took the second set, 6-1, and built a 5-3 lead in the third - but she ended up needing to go to a tie-break to finish off the Italian, one last Knapp error into the net giving her a 36 61 76(2) victory.
"She was serving unbelievable in the first set," Jankovic said. "My opponent was really playing very well today. I'm happy I could play better in the second set and turn it around. The third set could have gone either way - I was a little bit nervous but managed to stay composed and finish the match off.
"I'm very happy to be in the final in my first time here in Bogotá."
Jankovic will be going for her 13th WTA title - she has a 12-16 record in WTA finals going in.
"Hopefully I can win my 13th title," Jankovic continued. "I just hope to play my tennis and hopefully win this tournament and continue to play well in upcoming tournaments too, like Indian Wells and Miami. Doing well here this week gives me a lot of confidence for the upcoming season."
And on the looming final with Ormaechea, which will be a first-time meeting? "I think almost everyone here I'm playing for the first time, so it's nothing different really. Every match here is tough and I'll just try to make one more step and try to win the title. It'll be a big challenge but I'll try my best."
The doubles final also took place Saturday, with No.2 seeds Timea Babos and Mandy Minella beating No.1 seeds Eva Birnerova and Alexandra Panova, 64 63. It was Babos and Minella's first WTA doubles title together. Babos now has two WTA doubles titles; Minella won her first WTA title of any kind.