HOUSTON, TX, USA - A pair of former Wimbledon semifinalists set a championship clash in the final of the Oracle Challenger Series event on the campus of Rice University, as Kirsten Flipkens and Coco Vandeweghe each emerged victorious from Saturday's semifinal matches.
No.3 seed Flipkens ended the run of unseeded American Irina Falconi in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5, before Vandeweghe rallied from a break down twice in the final set to beat No.7 seed Stefanie Voegele, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, in just over two hours.
“She was playing really well and putting me in very uncomfortable positions," Vandeweghe assessed after the match.
"It took me a minute to get into the match and get my legs underneath me. But she kept doing it over the three sets and I kept trying to get more consistent each time. I felt I was really inconsistent the first set, missing a lot of rally balls.
“I challenged her a lot in break points and also in my hold points. I took care of them without going back and forth too much. That puts a lot of pressure on her.
“I’m actually enjoying tennis, that’s part of what’s going on and why I’m playing well this week. I’m doing the best I can and controlling what I can on the court.”
Flipkens and Vandeweghe will meet for the third time overall in Sunday's final, with the American holding a 2-1 head-to-head edge.
However, the Belgian, who called the former World No.9 "a great opponent" and "a great fighter," scored a 6-3, 7-6(3) victory in the pair's last meeting, in the first round of last year's US Open--which was ultimately one of the last singles matches Vandeweghe played to close out last season before her long sabbatical due to a foot injury.
“It's tough. I have to stay the course and manage what I can control, but also take the opportunities to come forward and take advantage of the play," Vandeweghe said.
"She has a lot of craft, but can pop the ball and has a sneaky serve. She beat me at the 2018 US Open after my first injury happened that July, so hopefully I’ll be able to get some revenge.”