Leylah Fernandez and Viktorija Golubic will face off for the first time, with a WTA singles title on the line as they each moved into the Abierto GNP Seguros final with straight-set semifinal wins over seeded opponents.
Fernandez ended the seven-match winning streak of last week's Guadalajara champion Sara Sorribes Tormo with a 7-5, 7-5 victory over the No.7 seed.
Earlier, Golubic defeated No.8 seed Ann Li 6-2, 6-4 becoming the first qualifier to reach the Abierto GNP Seguros final in the tournament's history.
Fernandez continues a run of success in Monterrey, where she reached the quarterfinals last season in her tournament debut. The 18-year-old Canadian is now 6-1 at the event after her hard-fought 2-hour and 6-minute victory over Sorribes Tormo.
"I was fighting through tough points, almost every point was tough, she played incredible," Fernandez said after her victory. "She’s a tough player to play against. She won last week in Guadalajara, so obviously she came in with a lot of confidence and I just tried to do my best in the moment, and I’m happy with the win today."
Fernandez is now into her second career WTA singles final -- her first also came in Mexico, where she played in the championship match in Acapulco last year before falling to Heather Watson.
Fernandez, the youngest player in this week's main draw, converted six of her nine break points against Sorribes Tormo as she blasted 35 winners to eke out both tight sets.
"Today, the game plan was to be a little more offensive, coming into the net," Fernandez said. "I think I executed it pretty well and I’m happy that the win was on my side."
Fernandez’s frequent charges to the net contrasted with Sorribes Tormo’s hefty shots and strong defense. Four straight breaks of service occurred from 2-2 to 4-4 in the opener as the returners took aim to dominate.
It was Fernandez who used aggressive play to cinch the one-set lead, putting away a volley to reach set point, then queuing up another volley winner with powerful groundstrokes to earn the break.
The second set followed the same pattern as the first, with, once again, four consecutive breaks leading to 4-4. Fernandez steeled herself to save three straight break points and hold for 5-4, and once more broke Sorribes Tormo at 6-5 with a winning volley to triumph.
Golubic has now reached the final of her last two WTA events, each time as a qualifier. Two weeks ago, she was the runner-up to Clara Tauson in Lyon.
"This is really awesome," Golubic said in reference to her strong run. "First of all, to experience that, and to still be also fit mentally and physically is also not an easy thing.
"I was keeping my routines and doing that very well too, so I also learned a lot about my game, and I could just feel I’m playing pretty solid now, and also moving well, and attacking in the right moments."
Golubic has won eight of her past nine WTA main-draw matches, and if you add her qualifying victories in Lyon and Monterrey to that total, she is 12-1 over the past three weeks.
Before her recent surge, Golubic had gone 12-2 on the ITF circuit this season, including a title in Grenoble, France, and a runner-up finish in Fujairah, U.A.E. (falling to Tauson there as well).
Neither Golubic nor Li had dropped a set coming into the semifinals, but it was the qualifier who came through with another straight-set win in 78 minutes. Golubic was 5-for-7 on break points and used many of her signature one-handed-backhands to fire 21 winners in the match.
"I was trying to be focused on my serve, because I knew she could serve well from time to time and then dominate," Golubic said. "I was trying to win my serve, and then when I had the chance, really get on her serve too."
Li’s powerful hitting led to only nine winners on the day, as this year’s Grampians Trophy finalist saw her 2021 win-loss record dip to 9-2 with the loss.
After an early exchange of breaks through 2-2, Golubic used tremendous depth of shot to steal Li’s next two service games, building a 5-2 advantage. Golubic converted her first set point in the very next game with an error-forcing crosscourt forehand.
In the second set, Li dropped serve in the opening game, but again pulled to parity at 2-2 with sturdy returning. But miscues by Li gave Golubic a crucial break at 4-3, and the qualifier eased to victory from there.
Golubic has now reached two WTA singles finals this season, which is the first time she has accomplished that feat since 2016, when she won the title in Gstaad and finished as runner-up in Linz.
Caroline Dolehide and Asia Muhammad claimed the Abierto GP Seguros doubles title earlier on Saturday, as the all-American pair defeated Heather Watson of Great Britain and Zheng Saisai of China 6-2, 6-3.
"What helps us is that both of us have big games -- sometimes too big and we need to pull back a little," Muhammad said after their win. "But I think it just helps, we have good serves, returns. I think that helps us a lot to navigate through these matches."
Dolehide added: "With a big server like me and Asia, to just have solid returns and make those first balls really count. Hit those big, big targets and be really aggressive and stick to our game style helps a lot."
No.2 seeds Dolehide and Muhammad were broken only once all day as they won a nearly three-quarters of their first-service points en route to the 66-minute victory over their unseeded opponents.
This is Muhammad's sixth WTA doubles title, but her first of the season, and her first alongside Dolehide. For Dolehide, Monterrey marks her first WTA title.