Eugenie Bouchard and Sara Sorribes Tormo, who have vastly different levels of experience deep in WTA singles events, will battle on Saturday for the Abierto Zapopan title.
Bouchard moved into her eighth career WTA singles final with a 6-2, 7-6(2) victory over qualifier Elisabetta Cocciaretto. Former World No.5 Bouchard will attempt to grab her first WTA singles title since 2014.
No.4 seed Sorribes Tormo, on the other hand, has reached her first-ever WTA singles final after defeating No.2 seed Marie Bouzkova, 6-3, 7-6(3), saving three set points in the second set. Sorribes Tormo had gone 0-for-2 in her previous WTA semifinal appearances.
For Bouchard, this is her second WTA singles final in the past 52 weeks, as she also reached the championship match in Istanbul last season, where she fell to Patricia Maria Tig.
"[Cocciaretto is] a very tough player," Bouchard said. "She plays aggressively and takes it early, so she’s always coming at you. I had to be ready for that and stay with her, and then whenever I had a chance, go for it."
Bouchard swiftly took the first set behind two breaks of service, but in a closely contested second set, Cocciaretto exhibited the grit that pulled her to her first-ever WTA semifinal this week, which included a win over No.1 seed Nadia Podoroska.
Deep returns helped Bouchard attain a crucial break lead at 3-2, but when serving for the match at 5-4, Bouchard faltered for the first time on her delivery. On her fifth break point of the match, Cocciaretto at last converted one of her chances with a beautiful backhand winner down the line to level the set at 5-5 and stay afloat.
However, Bouchard used all of her experience to dominate the second-set tiebreak, where she reeled off an array of fantastic forehands to claim the final five points of the affair and claim a spot in Saturday's final.
"I’m proud of myself for regrouping there at the end and still committing to playing my game, no matter if she was playing well," Bouchard said. "It was just important to keep doing what I do."
2014 Wimbledon finalist Bouchard is seeking her second career WTA singles title. The Canadian's record in WTA singles finals is a spotty 1-6, with her sole WTA singles title coming on the clay of Nurnberg seven years ago.
In the late semifinal, Sorribes Tormo needed just over two hours to claim her two-set win over her friend and occasional doubles partner Bouzkova, with grueling rallies frequently being the order of the night.
"I think it was a tough match for both," said Sorribes Tormo, after the tilt. "We know each other very well, and it was an emotional match for me and for her. I’m happy with the way I managed the emotions and all the moments in the match."
The protracted nature of many of the points and games was epitomized by Sorribes Tormo’s early critical break for 2-0, which took 10 minutes before the Spaniard claimed it on her fifth break point of the tussle. That proved to be the only break of the set as Sorribes Tormo leapt to the one-set lead.
In the second set, Bouzkova found a forehand winner to break for a 4-2 lead, and the Czech extended her advantage to 5-2 before Sorribes Tormo charged back. Sorribes Tormo broke at love to get back on serve at 5-4, then withstood three set points on her serve at 5-6 to eke her way into a tiebreak.
Once into the breaker, Sorribes Tormo dominated, drawing miscues from Bouzkova to earn six straight match points at 6-0. Bouzkova fended off the first three match points, but on the fourth, Sorribes Tormo knocked off a forehand winner to surge into her first WTA singles final.
"[Bouchard is] playing really good, she has really good timing with the ball," said Sorribes Tormo, looking forward to the final. "We’ll see what will happen, but I'm happy being in the final and I will enjoy it tomorrow, for sure."