NÜRNBERG, Germany - Former Top 10 player Andrea Petkovic continued to come back out of her shell at the NÜRNBERGER VERSICHERUNGSCUP on Friday, stunning Jelena Jankovic in the semifinals to reach her first WTA final since Beijing over 20 months ago. Up next is Simona Halep.
Petkovic, a wildcard into the International-level tournament, had already taken out No.4 seed Julia Goerges and No.8 seed Annika Beck en route to the semis, and then rallied from an early break in both sets to take out the No.1-seeded Jankovic in straight sets in exactly an hour and a half, 64 63.
"I'm absolutely overwhelmed right now," Petkovic said. "I think I played a really great match today. I didn't think it would be possible because I was really tired after yesterday, so I pulled all of my power and strength that was left together and managed to put in a good performance out there today."
After falling in the qualifying of the French Open, Petkovic had some dark moments - but there's a reason the German has been as high as No.9 in the world, and she seems to have resurrected herself.
"It's really absurd - two weeks ago I was thinking about quitting tennis because I was playing so badly. I wasn't feeling good on the court and I was doubting myself a lot. But here I am now. The good thing about going through all of that is I appreciate everything much more now. I'm very thankful and grateful for all of this. I never guessed I would get a second chance after all of my injuries, but here it is."
Petkovic will be playing in her sixth WTA final, going 2-3 in those first five. Her two titles both came at International-level clay court tournaments, at Bad Gastein in 2009 and Strasbourg in 2011.
"There's definitely going to be some pressure on me now," she added. "I'll have to try and block it out of my mind. I just need to recover tonight and put another good performance out there tomorrow."
Halep, the No.7 seed, didn't lose a set in her first three matches, but she saw that stat go down the drain in a big way in her semifinal match, dropping the second set at love - but she recovered about as well as a player could, cruising past No.5 seed Lucie Safarova in the third to take it, 63 06 62.
"Lucie played really well in the second set, and I was a little bit nervous, too," Halep said. "I don't really know what happened after that but I just kept fighting and started playing every point from there."
Halep will be looking for her first WTA title - she is 0-3 so far in her career in WTA finals.
"It's very nice to play the final here tomorrow - I feel very good here in Nürnberg," Halep said. "My ankle is not feeling very good right now, I have a little pain, but I hope it's fine for the final tomorrow."
Petkovic beat Halep in their only previous meeting, at an ITF Women's Circuit event four years ago.