LYON, France – Anna-Lena Friedsam continued her fine run at the Open 6 ème Sens – Métropole de Lyon to overcome Daria Kasatkina, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 and secure a place in her second WTA Tour final.
The German player, the WTA World No.136, had lost both previous meetings to Kasatkina, though those were in 2016, before she endured a long period out of the game because of shoulder trouble.
And she is now into her first final since those concerns, having proven too strong for the No.7 seed in a grueling encounter that lasted two hours six minutes.
“It feels great. It makes me feel that all the hard work has paid off. I’m super proud,” the victor, who made the Linz showpiece in 2015, explained.
“She’s a great player and very solid. She doesn’t make any bad decisions. I tried to play to my strengths. I tried to use my power, push her out of court and get to the net. I think it worked today, but it was a hard fight and a hard battle.”
A single break of serve was sufficient for the 26-year-old to secure the opening set, and though she lost a hard-fought second, she never trailed in the third, winning a decider for the second day in succession having overcome No.8 seed Viktoria Kuzmova in a thriller 24 hours earlier.
Friedsam took the opening set largely due to her excellence on serve. She made 76% of her first deliveries, winning 20 out of 28 of these, while she did not face a single break point until tasked to serve out the set.
Kasatkina, who had dropped the only break point she had faced in the opener, was tenacious in her defense as her opponent sought to seal the opener, but despite saving four set points, a single break achieved in the fourth game of the match was the decisive factor.
First finalist in Lyon 😀— WTA (@WTA) March 7, 2020
Anna-Lena Friedsam defeats Kasatkina, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, @Open6emeSensML! pic.twitter.com/JT80Dg7CDu
The second was a good deal harder fought as the rallies became longer and the games were extended.
Things might have run quickly away from Kasatkina at this point, but she saved four break points in the opening game before establishing a 3-0 lead of her own.
While Friedsam did manage to level up, Kasatkina cut her error count down and immediately restored her advantage by breaking to love, aided by her opponents first serve slumping to 55%.
The frame was subsequently sealed with an authoritative hold.
The WTA World No.73 was unable to maintain that momentum into the decider, with Friedsam quick to establish a 2-0 lead.
As Kasatkina reeled her opponent back in with a break and her only love service game of the match, it seemed that the momentum had swung in her favor once more, but instead it was Friedsam who finished the match on the up, dropping just three points in the final four games as she quickly whisked victory away from an opponent who had won five of her last six semifinals.
The unseeded Friedsam will, therefore, meet either Sofia Kenin, the No.1 seed, or Alison Van Uytvanck in Sunday’s final.