'S-HETOGENBOSCH, Netherlands - Two points away from defeat twice, American Alison Riske pulled off a stunning comeback to reach the final of the Libéma Open.
The American came from a break down in the final set twice, and won the last five points of the ensuing tiebreak, to edge Veronika Kudermetova, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5).
"I'm so emotion right now, because honestly, I didn't feel like I was going to win that match," Riske said on-court after the match.
"It was such a battle. I thought Veronika played absolutely amazing tennis and I'm just so grateful to be through. I'm excited to be here for another day."
A tight match throughout between two players directly adjacent to each other in the WTA rankings had a fitting conclusion in a final set, but the Russian saw a trio of opportunities to seal a spot in her first WTA final pass by over the course of two hours and 10 minutes.
Kudermetova served for the match twice in the final set, at 5-4 and 6-5, and was two points away from victory in the 10th game at 30-30.
She appeared to shake off any disappointment in the tiebreak, as she moved into the ascendancy immediately and built a 5-2 lead.
Unable to get over the line, however, the Russian never found herself at match point, and the American rallied for the win and a spot in her second final of the season.
"There was definitely a little bit of luck involved in the match, on top of a lot of competing," Riske added. "I feel ike that's what got me the win today. In the end, I think she had a few tough points in the tiebreak and I was able to pull ahead and win.
"I'm just thrilled to get through and proud that I was fighting for every point."
— WTA (@WTA) June 15, 2019
Prior to the dramatic finale, efficiency on break points proved to be the factor which put Kudermetova in a winning position.
The Russian was a perfect 6-for-6 on break points in the match, while Riske managed to win just 6 of the 15 chances she held overall, though she was 2-for-2 after seeing two early chances slip by in the final set.
The opening set saw five straight breaks of serve from 1-1, with the American finally stopping the run with a love hold in the eighth game en route to taking a one-set lead.
Undaunted, however, Kudermetova twice dug out of 0-40 holes on serve in the second set to send the match to a decider, as she broke Riske twice in turn in the middle games.
"To win out here, [to fight] is really your only choice: everyone is so good, no matter where they're ranked or where they're coming from," Riske said.
"You really have to be there on every point and I try my best to do that."
The World No.61 withstood 10 aces and 40 winners overall from Kudermetova's racquet, as the Russian's aggression proved a double-edged sword for the match.
The World No. 60 also racked up 42 unforced errors overall, as the American kept her numbers in check with 18 winners to 19 unforced.
Riske extends her winning streak to nine straight matches, coming off a victory at the ITF $100,000 event on the English lawns in Surbiton last week.
Well-known for her penchant for grass-court tennis and quick surfaces, Riske will contest her eighth career WTA singles final, and second on grass, as she looks to win her first title in five years.
"I absolutely love it here. Last year was my first year playing here - I always played in England for eight years or so," Riske said.
"I was like, 'It's time to change it up,' and since coming here, I feel like it's a new tournament here on the schedule for me, and I really enjoy it."