ACAPULCO, Mexico - Defending champion Lesia Tsurenko earned a ninth straight victory at the Abierto Mexicano TELCEL presentado por HSBC on Friday, as she held off a late charge from Daria Gavrilova to return to the final at the WTA International event, 6-2, 6-4.
Leading 6-2, 5-0 in the match, Tsurenko needed three opportunities to serve out the contest in the second set, and a total of seven match points overall.
"I think it was just getting more and more tough in the second set because her defense was just amazing," Tsurenko said after the match.
"It was confusing for me and I made a lot of mistakes, probably because I lost some concentration, but I'm really happy I finished 6-4, and not getting to a tiebreak or something like that."
The Ukrainian No.2 showed why she owned a perfect head-to-head against her Australian opponent early on in the match, as she sprinted out to a 3-0 lead behind two breaks of serve to begin.
Though Gavrilova managed to break serve twice in the first set, she never managed to hold her own delivery as Tsurenko broke her a total of four times in seven opportunities, and won seven straight games after losing serve in the sixth game of the opener.
The 23-year-old showed a measure of resistance in the second set as she broke for a third time to save the bagel and saved a total of four match points in a marathon, six-deuce game to earn her first hold of serve in the match.
She pulled to within a game of parity thanks to another break and an emphatic hold, and even held a break point for parity at 5-5, but ultimately, however, the World No.40 ran her head-to-head against Gavrilova to 5-0 in one hour, 46 minutes.
The No.7 seed hasn't dropped a set this week in four matches, running her streak of sets won in the Mexican city to 17 - as she won all five matches last year without dropping one as well.
"I just really like it here, I think all the conditions for the tournament are just great and I know that all the players enjoy to play here," the Ukrainian said, when asked about her success at the event to date.
"The surface is great. I like to play on hard courts and I really appreciate that the tournament is playing on hard now."
Tsurenko will have the opportunity to play for her fourth career WTA title against either Swedish qualifier Rebecca Peterson or Switzerland's Stefanie Voegele, who will square off in the day's second semifinal.