ACAPULCO, Mexico -- Wang Yafan of China reached her first final at WTA level after attaining a come-from-behind upset of Croatian No.3 seed Donna Vekic, 2-6, 6-3, 6-1, in the semifinals of the Abierto Mexicano TELCEL presentado por HSBC on Friday.
"It was a tough match," Wang told the press, following her win. "I tried to fight for every point."
In the first meeting between the two players, World No.65 Wang rebounded from a shaky first set to pull through an up-and-down second set where only one game was won by the server, then eased through the decider to claim her breakthrough win after one hour and 50 minutes of play.
Wang claimed eight service breaks in the match, winning nearly 70 percent of points off of the Vekic second serve. World No.28 Vekic was 6-for-6 on break points, but she was unable to obtain a break point in the final set, and came unglued with 39 unforced errors, many occurring in the final two sets.
24-year-old Wang reached the WTA 125K Series final in Zhengzhou last year, which she lost to her compatriot Zheng Saisai, but this will be her debut final in a WTA International event. On Saturday, she will meet the winner of the late semifinal between No.5 seed Sofia Kenin of the United States and Bianca Andreescu of Canada.
Vekic held at love to open the match but got into trouble in her second service game, firing two double faults to get broken and cede a 2-1 lead to Wang. But the Chinese player lost that advantage immediately, getting broken at love after she blasted two double faults and fired a forehand miscue long.
That kicked off a run of five straight games for Vekic, as any opportunities Wang gave herself with solid returns or strong forehands were fended off by the Croatian. Wang had two break points to get back on serve at 4-2, but Vekic erased one with an ace and another with a powerful forehand, getting back on track to her eventual first-set victory.
The second set opened with a plethora of games going to the returner; on three occasions, Wang took the service game of an error-prone Vekic to go up a break, and all three times Vekic would strike back to level the scoreline after miscues by Wang.
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A seventh straight game in the set went the way of the returner when Wang broke for 4-3 with a forehand winner off a drop shot, and Wang finally consolidated her fourth lead of the set with a swift hold for 5-3. That was the only service hold by either player in the second set, as Vekic then fired a flurry of errors to drop serve at love and see her one-set advantage disappear.
Wang continued her momentum at the start of the decider, breaking for 2-0 following a netted backhand error from Vekic on break point. The Chinese player then pulled through a close game to hold for 4-1, cracking open a rally on game point by firing a crosscourt forehand winner off of a Vekic drop shot.
In the next game, Vekic used aggressive play to stave off two break points and reach game point to stay within striking distance, but Wang maneuvered the Croatian into backhand errors, and on a third break point, dueling drop shots went the way of the Chinese player, and she took a 5-1 lead.
Serving for her first WTA final, Wang double faulted away her first match point, but a stunning forehand winner smack on the sideline gave the unseeded player a second chance. There, Wang clinched the win after a Vekic forehand went wide, and the Chinese player was queued up for a return to the center court on Saturday.