WASHINGTON, DC, USA - No.7 seed Ekaterina Makarova reached her first WTA singles final in over three years at the Citi Open on Saturday, rallying from a set down to defeat No.5 seed Océane Dodin in the semifinal, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
The Russian will contest her first singles final since winnng the Pattaya Open in Thailand in 2014, as she goes for her third career singles title against the winner of the all-German clash between No.4 seed Julia Goerges and Andrea Petkovic.
The 29-year-old Makarova was forced to come from a set down for the second straight match, as Dodin's blistering groundstrokes found their mark more often than not in the opening set.
The No.5 seed broke serve twice in the opening set, and saved all three break points she faced to get on the front foot in her first career match against the two-time Grand Slam semifinalist.
Dodin fired 14 winners, four of them aces, off the ground in the first set, to just 12 unforced errors, while Makarova was close to her in each tally, with 13 winners and 15 errors. The difference in the tight opener, however, was efficiency on break points; Dodin converted on two of her three chances, while Makarova was unable to convert on any of the three she created.
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However, Makarova's experience began to take hold in the second set, and she nudged in front with her first break of the match in the fifth game.
That proved to be the difference that stood up for nearly the duration of the set, as the No.7 seed dropped just one point in two forthcoming service games, and steadied through to a second break in the ninth game to force a decider.
Dodin's consistency deserted her both off the ground and on serve in the second set, as her first serve percentage dipped from 58 to 41%, and though she matched Makarova in winners (nine), she hit over twice the Russian's number of unforced errors (15 to seven).
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Though Dodin held off Makarova's increasing momentum to begin the decider, as she saved three break points in her first service game of the final set, she was unable to hold off the Russian's fourth chance in the sixth game as she moved ahead 4-2.
The Frenchwoman did fight back valiantly in the next game, however, as she saved a game point after two break points slipped away, eventually getting the set back on serve and evening the score at 4-4.
However, Makarova was not to be denied, as she came up with decisive shots when she needed them most to claim the last two games of the match and move through to the final.
Both players struck 31 winners over the course of the match, which just fell short of the two-hour mark, but Makarova's increased consistency won out in the end. The Russian tallied a total of 32 unforced errors in the victory, while Dodin's number stood at 41.