KATOWICE, Poland - When she hit a drop volley winner and an ace on the first two points of the match, she probably knew it was going to be a good day - Roberta Vinci was at her aggressive best against Annika Beck in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Katowice Open on Saturday, needing just 49 minutes to beat the German teenager, 61 60, and move into the final of the indoor clay court stop.
Vinci had won the last 12 games of her previous match and extended that to 15 games in a row with a blistering start to this one, losing just two points en route to a 3-0 lead. Beck got on the board with a hold in the next game but that was the last game she would get, the No.2-seeded Italian running off another nine games in a row to close it out. She closed it out in style, too, running down a Beck drop shot on match point and calmly placing a forehand into the open court for one last winner.
"I played some good tennis today - it was a good match," Vinci said after the match. "It was like yesterday. I'm so happy about my game today and I'm excited to be playing in the finals now."
This will be Vinci's ninth WTA final. She has a more than impressive 7-1 record in her first eight finals, winning her first title in 2007 (Bogotá), one in 2009 (Barcelona), one in 2010 (Luxembourg), three in 2011 (Barcelona, 's-Hertogenbosch and Budapest) and her seventh one in 2012 (Dallas).
Vinci is currently sitting at a career-high ranking of No.13 in the world, but could improve that if she were to win the title on Sunday - she is projected to rise to No.12 in the world if that happens.
Despite the loss, Beck has a lot to take away from Katowice - not only was she in the semifinals of a WTA tournament for the first time, she was also playing against a Top 20 player for the first time.
"It was a great tournament for me here in Katowice," Beck said. "At the start of this tournament I never expected to play the semifinals. The match was not so good for me today - Roberta played very well from the beginning on and had really good answers - but of course it's a different level playing against a Top 20 player, and I will just take this experience, learn from it and look forward to the next."
And what's next for the German teenager? "I have some days off then I will play in Stuttgart."
Next for Vinci will be the No.1-seeded Petra Kvitova, who won her semifinal later in the day. The two will be playing for the second time - Kvitova defeated Vinci in their only previous meeting.
"Petra's a great player," Vinci said of her final opponent. "She's left-handed and always plays flat. For sure it will be a tough match but I'll just go out there and try to play my best tennis tomorrow."
Vinci has eight Top 10 wins: two in 2005 (No.10 Anastasia Myskina at Eastbourne and No.10 Patty Schnyder at Luxembourg), one in 2009 (No.10 Flavia Pennetta at Tokyo), one in 2011 (No.1 Caroline Wozniacki at Toronto), two in 2012 (No.7 Angelique Kerber at Montréal and No.2 Agnieszka Radwanska at the US Open) and two in 2013 (No.6 Kerber and No.9 Sam Stosur, both at Dubai).