BIRMINGHAM, England - The rainy weather let up and the business end of the AEGON Classic finally got going Sunday, with the two remaining quarterfinals and both semifinals in the books. And at the end of it all, two sentimental favorites are through to the final: Jelena Jankovic and Melanie Oudin.
The final line-up is perhaps more impressive given both Jankovic and Oudin had double duty on Sunday, completing their quarterfinals and playing their semifinals too. In their quarterfinals, the No.5-seeded Jankovic beat Misaki Doi, 63 64, while qualifier Oudin edged fellow American Irina Falconi, 64 57 75.
Then the semifinals began. Oudin was the first to take the court, facing No.8 seed Ekaterina Makarova for a spot in her first WTA final - and that's exactly what she got, battling past the Russian left-hander in three, 64 36 62.
"I've played six or seven matches in a row here now and I feel my confidence building with each one," Oudin said. "I've always loved playing on grass. I think my forehand is one of my biggest weapons and since I hit it so flat it goes through the court a lot on grass. Then I can slice my backhand and hit drop shots too, so I've always thought grass suits my game really well.
"I feel like I'm showing Top 50 tennis again. I hope to get back up there."
Jankovic followed with a 67(2) 75 61 win over another qualifier, Zheng Jie, just six points from losing serving at 5-all 30-all in the second set but then reeling off eight of the next nine games for a runaway win over the tenacious Chinese.
"I had to play five sets today, but the most important thing is I was able to win both matches and get to the finals," Jankovic said. "Against Zheng I was able to start playing more aggressively as the match went on. Especially in that third set, my fifth set of the day, I was striking the ball well, serving and returning well. I really felt like I had saved my best tennis of the day for last.
"If we played the final too I could have had seven or eight sets in one day. But I could probably have done it. I would still be standing."
The final was postponed until Monday morning. Oudin beat Jankovic in their only previous meeting, which was on grass as well, breaking away from a set and 5-all down to win in the third round of Wimbledon in 2009, 67(8) 75 62.
"One thing I do remember about that match is someone told me right before that I was playing her on the Graveyard Court," Oudin said. "I was only 17 and she was someone I had looked up to. I knew I had a chance to win - I thought if other people could upset top players on that court, I could do it too. It was a really long match and I won, and that's the last time I played her."
The doubles draw was completed, with Timea Babos and Hsieh Su-Wei springing a big surprise on No.1 seeds Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond, winning the title with a 75 67(2) 108 win over the co-World No.1s. Huber and Raymond were up 8-4 in the match tie-break when Babos and Hsieh won six straight points and the title - Babos' first WTA doubles title, Hsieh's ninth.