PALERMO, Italy - Top seed Kiki Bertens will play for her third title of the season at the Ladies' Open Palermo.
The World No.5 ended the breakthrough run of 21-year-old Spaniard Paula Badosa with a 6-1, 7-5 win in Saturday's semifinals to advance to her fourth final of the season against No.8 seed Jil Teichmann.
Bertens needed eight match points to ultimately see off the rising Spaniard, playing her first WTA semifinal, who twice rallied from a break down in a tight second set.
Nonetheless, the Dutch ace held on in a titantic final game, which saw her lose a 40-0 lead, save a break point and be taken to deuce six times, before ultimately wrapping up the match in one hour and 37 minutes.
"I'm getting used to it a little bit more, but it's still a challenge for me to come somewhere...where's [there's] pressure for me to do well, and also from myself. I'm just glad that I could handle the pressure and I'm through to the final here," Bertens said.
"Of course, you're like, 'Am I going to lose?' [when match points go by], but every point I was just going to fight for it. I think she played some unbelievable shots when she was match points down, so credit to her as well, and I was just going to keep going."
— WTA (@WTA) July 27, 2019
The opening set was much more straightforward for the top seed, who won six games in a row to seal it and never faced a break point, as she lost just four points behind her serve.
Badosa, ranked World No.119 entering this week in Sicily, saved two break points of her own to begin the second set, and largely stayed even with the World No.5 through the duration of the match, after she first dropped serve in the second set to love in the fifth game.
Though both players made 22 unforced errors in the match, it was Bertens' increased aggression which won out in the end, including in the titantic 10-minute final game.
Bertens hit 26 winners to Badosa's 12 in the match, and won over 60 percent of the points played behind her first and second serves.
"Last year, I decided to not play any more tournaments after Wimbledon, so this year, I'm really that happy I decided to play one more event on clay," the Dutch No.1 added.
"It's the surface I like the most, so I'm glad that this year, I could just play a few more matches on the clay."
— Paula Badosa (@paulabadosa15) July 27, 2019
In the final, Bertens will face the left-handed Teichmann for the first time, after the Swiss advanced to her second final of the season with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Russian lucky loser Liudmila Samsonova.
"I've seen her play. She's a great player, she's done really well this year, but I've never faced her before," Bertens said of Teichmann.
"It's going to be a challenge, but I'm looking forward to it and I'm really happy to play another final."