Jil Teichmann of Switzerland booked a spot in the biggest WTA singles final of her career by dispatching No.5 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-4 and advancing into the championship match of the WTA 1000 Western & Southern Open.
A wildcard into the event ranked World No.76, 24-year-old Teichmann took just an 1 hour and 22 minutes to upset World No.4 Pliskova in toasty conditions Saturday afternoon in Ohio.
Teichmann is now 4-0 against Top 10 players this season. The victory over 2016 Cincinnati champion Pliskova was Teichmann's second Top 5 win of the week and her third win in a row over a Top 20 player.
A week of upsets continues: Teichmann stunned World No.2 Naomi Osaka in the round of 16 for her biggest career win by ranking. She then notched a quarterfinal victory over 12th-ranked Belinda Bencic, her countrywoman and the reigning Olympic champion.
Stat corner: Both players had a 69 percent success rate behind their first serves, but it was on second-service points where Teichmann took charge, winning 59 percent of those, compared to just 34 percent for 2021 Wimbledon runner-up Pliskova.
That allowed Teichmann to convert four of her nine break points; by contrast, Pliskova was just 1-for-7 on break points. Teichmann also had eight aces, double that of Pliskova, who has led the tour in aces in four of the last six seasons.
Key moments: After a love hold for 2-2 in the first set, Teichmann notched a critical service break when, on her second break point, she carved a slice to force a netted error from Pliskova. All told, Teichmann won the final five games of the opening frame.
Even more crucially, Teichmann served her way out of triple break point at 3-2 in the second set, eventually gritting out that hold after five deuces. The pair exchanged breaks after that game, but Teichmann reclaimed the break lead at 5-4, then served out the match with aplomb to enter her first WTA 1000 final.
Teichmann's thoughts: "I think I served really good, as did she," Teichmann told the press, after her win. "Especially in the beginning, I was trying to return, somehow get into the rally. I felt as well very good in the rally, and I think that's where I made the difference.
"I have been working a lot on many different aspects. Mentally I have been working [on] my strokes. I have been working physically, as I mentioned already the past few days. I have had injuries, so I had to work a lot physically, as well. Long weeks, long hours. I guess just the positives getting together right now this week."
What's next: Teichmann is now into her fourth WTA singles final, but her first above WTA 250-level. In 2019, Teichmann won clay-court titles in Prague and Palermo, and last year she reached her first hardcourt final in Lexington.
Aiming for her third WTA singles title, and her first at WTA 1000-level, Teichmann will face World No.1 and reigning Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty in the final. It will be their first meeting.
"To me, it's perfect," Teichmann said, looking forward to the final. "Playing Center Court against World No.1 in a final, it's perfect. It's a really nice challenge, and I'll go for it."
Stosur and Zhang stop the Dabrowski/Stefani juggernaut to win doubles
Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai captured their third team title and first since winning the 2019 Australian Open, defeating Montreal champions Gabriela Dabrowski and Luisa Stefani, 7-5, 6-3 to win the Cincinnati doubles title. The straight-sets win capped off an exciting week for Stosur/Zhang, who won four consecutive match tie-breaks to advance to their second WTA 1000 final as a team. Cincinnati served as a reunion for Stosur and Zhang, who had not teamed up since the Australian Open.
Facing the hottest team on the doubles circuit, Stosur and Zhang quickly overcame a slow start after falling behind 0-2 in the first set. Behind Zhang's strong returning, the Australian-Chinese duo broke serve to take the opening set. The second set was more of the same for the eventual champions, as they rallied from 0-2 down again to build a lead on Dabrowski/Stefani, who were into their third straight final of the summer hardcourt season.
"I thought we saw many elements of a doubles match today," Stosur said. "Shuai was able to hit lots of angles, low balls, they were lobbing, we had power. I thought everyone served pretty well for the match. "Overall I think we played very solid. We were very clear and decisive with what we were choosing to do, and we were able to execute it more often than not.
"I think the key was we served really well and were mostly doing well on our service games. Then able to put a lot of pressure on them continually and were able to get more breaks."
Dabrowski/Stefani kept the pressure on in the final game. With Stosur serving at 5-3, Dabrowski/Stefani earned two break points at 30-40. But the 2011 US Open champion turned back the clock and fired two perfectly placed first serves to close out the win, punctuating the night with an ace.
"We just so enjoy playing together," Zhang said. "We're so happy to play together. Even yesterday, last night, we were so tired, but [our] opponents [had] match points, and we're still laughing, we still smile. We always make some funny things when we're feeling really bad and we come back.
"So, yeah, we missed each other so much, because last two years we cannot play together. The first tournament we play together again, and we won the big trophy. That's so special. The first day, we meet each other and Sam told me, 'Yeah, we're back.' All positive."