Lucie Safarova lifted her game and dashed the hopes of the Québecois home fans on Saturday, coming back to beat Canadian No.1 Eugenie Bouchard in the Bell Challenge semifinals.
WTA Staff

QUÉBEC CITY, Canada - Lucie Safarova lifted her game and dashed the hopes of the Québecois home fans, coming back to beat Canadian No.1 Eugenie Bouchard in the Bell Challenge semifinals.

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Things weren't looking so good for the No.3-seeded Safarova mid-match - after dropping the first set, 6-3, she found herself in trouble again serving at 3-all, ad-out in the second set. But she dug out of that game and eventually won seven games in a row to take the second set and build a 4-0 lead in the third, winning 27 of 34 points in that run. She would close out the No.3-seeded Bouchard, 36 63 62.

"Genie has such great support here and she's such a talented player, so I knew I had to play really well," Safarova said. "I look at it as today was my win, and she'll have many more in the future.

"She plays very fast and takes the ball really early, right after the bounce, so I was a little bit slow there at the beginning. But after the first set I stepped up my level and when I broke her in the first game of the third set she dropped her level a little bit, and I'm happy I managed to take advantage from there."

Safarova is now in her 12th WTA final, going 4-7 in her first 11. Those four titles all came at the International level - Estoril and Forest Hills in 2005, Gold Coast in 2006 and Forest Hills again in 2008. One of her runner-up finishes came here in 2009 to Melinda Czink - a rare all-lefty WTA final.

"I'd really like to win the title here," Safarova said. "It's been quite a long time since I've won a WTA tournament, and this is such a great tournament, so it would be great to do it here in Québec."

Next up for Safarova is No.6 seed Marina Erakovic, who won her semifinal match earlier in the day. Safarova beat Erakovic in their only previous meeting, though it was a long time ago and very close.

"It's been a while since we last played so you can't really count that," Safarova said. "Marina has a big serve and a big forehand - she has a little bit weaker backhand so I'll try to use my lefty and get into that side. And I need to hold serve as well. I'm sure it's going to be a very good match tomorrow."

Bouchard was understandably disappointed with the result. "I think I wasn't serving as strong after the first set, so I was on the defense a lot in the second and third sets," she commented. "Of course I'm disappointed with the result but Lucie played well, and I just have to keep working hard from here."

And the Canadian has a lot to be proud of this week - she not only reached her second WTA semifinal, having already achieved the feat once earlier this year in Strasbourg, but by virtue of her results at her home tournament, she will break into the Top 50 players in the world on the new WTA Rankings.

Safarova was certainly impressed. "I think she's a really great player already and she's still very young," the Czech commented. "If she keeps working she can be a really good player in the future."

"I could have done better this week, but I'm happy with what I accomplished this week," Bouchard said. "I played some good matches here and I came up against a really good player today. After the first set she was playing even better. I have to learn how to raise my game too when that happens."