LINZ, Austria - No.2 seed Barbora Strycova ended Romanian qualifier Mihaela Buzarnescu’s dream run to reach her first WTA final of the season at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz. She’s set up a clash with No.1 seed Magdalena Rybarikova for the title.
The Czech, who’s reached three WTA semifinals this year at Prague, Biel/Bienne and Sydney, came into the matchup looking to end the year on a good note and reach her first final of 2017.
Read more: Buzarnescu blitzes Bencic in Linz
“It’s been a year and I half since I’ve been in a final - I’m very happy to be playing well and finish my season this way,” Strycova said in her post-match press conference. “There’s still one more match to come, and it’s the most important one. I will give everything tomorrow and we will see how it goes. But I know I will fight.”
After Strycova needed just one break to edge ahead in the opening set, Buzarnescu held a set point in the second and looked to take the match the distance. But Strycova dug in and forced a tiebreaker, where she pulled away and clinched the match as the Romanian’s backhand sailed wide, 6-3, 7-6(3).
“I have to say that [Mihaela] has such great strokes, and she doesn’t play with a lot of power but she reads the game very well,” Strycova said. “I was in trouble in the second set, especially with her set point and in the tiebreak. Sometimes I felt like I couldn’t win a point from the baseline, because she was playing well and deep.
“I think if she keeps playing like this, she can be Top 50 soon for sure. Her tennis is very beautiful. But I won today, so it’s good!”
The loss puts an end to Buzarnescu’s dream run in Linz; the 29-year-old, currently ranked No.105, became the oldest player to make her Top 100 debut since Israel’s Tzipora Obziler made her Top 100 debut in 2007 at 33 years old. Her efforts have earned her a spot inside the Top 90, landing at No.89 when the new rankings are run on Monday.
Strycova will go on to face the top seed Rybarikova in the final of the Upper Austria Ladies Linz. Rybarikova needed two sets to see off last year’s finalist Viktorija Golubic, 6-4, 6-4.
Down 4-1 in the first set, Wimbledon semifinalist Rybarikova recovered emphatically and reeled off five games in a row to seal the set, then weathered an injury scare early in the second to close out the match and seal her spot in the final.
More to follow...