A brand new WTA champion is guaranteed at the Ladies Open Lausanne after No.1 seed Tamara Zidansek and Clara Burel both won their semifinals.
Zidansek held off a valiant effort from first-time semifinalist Maryna Zanevska 7-5, 6-3 in one hour and 35 minutes, while Burel came from a set and a break down and overcame injury to upset No.5 seed Caroline Garcia 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 in two hours and 25 minutes.
For former junior World No.1 Burel, it will be a first WTA final. The 20-year-old's previous best showing at this level was a quarterfinal run in Lyon in February, and she collected her biggest title to date at the Saint-Gaudens ITF W60 in May.
By contrast, Zidansek has played and lost two previous WTA finals, at Nurnberg 2019 to Yulia Putintseva and Bogota 2021 to Maria Camila Osorio Serrano. The Slovenian World No.50 is enjoying a career-best year, with her victory over Zanevska taking her season record to 25-13, including a breakthrough run to the Roland Garros semifinals a month ago.
Against Zanevska, Zidansek was sharp in maintaining scoreboard control. She got off to early leads in both sets, and though the battling Belgian pegged her back both times, was able to summon her best tennis to prevent a full comeback.
At 4-4 in the first set, Zidansek saved five break points to swing the opening act in her favour. Throughout, she found the lines with her forehand when it mattered, and delivered superb defence to draw Zanevska into going for high-risk shots. The World No.193 consequently tallied 23 unforced errors to 12 winners, compared to Zidansek's watertight 14 unforced errors and 11 winners.
Burel's career-best week has so far been defined by statement wins over her countrywomen. In the quarterfinals, she upset No.2 seed Fiona Ferro 7-5, 6-2, and backed that up with a gritty performance against former World No.4 Garcia. Burel, the current French No.6, now owns victories against three of her nation's top four players this year, having also defeated Alizé Cornet in Lyon.
Garcia raced out of the blocks, showing off her shotmaking skills as she leapt to a 3-0 lead, but found herself gradually reeled in. Indeed, Burel served for the opening set at 5-4, only to be denied by a flurry of sudden Garcia return winners.
Undeterred, Burel weathered the ebbs and flows of Garcia's power game. She raised her first serve percentage from 39% in the first set to 63% in the second, and from 0-2 down converted her sixth break point in a marathon tussle to get a foothold in the set.
At 1-1 in the decider, Burel's chances took a hit when she stumbled and fell to the ground in pain, requiring a medical timeout to tape up her ankle. But on resumption, it was the younger player whose focus was renewed.
Pounding the ball with aggressive intent on her forehand, Burel immediately captured the Garcia serve for 2-1. Thereafter, it was Garcia who fell apart somewhat, unable to keep the ball out of Burel's strike zone and burying herself in 37 unforced errors and seven double faults.
Sunday's final will be a first encounter between Zidansek and Burel.