Aleksandra Krunic raced into her first Hologic WTA Tour singles final in over four years, dispatching defending champion and No.3 seed Yulia Putintseva 6-2, 6-2 in the Hungarian Grand Prix semifinals on Saturday.
Krunic of Serbia needed just 1 hour and 15 minutes to pick up her first win in three meetings with Kazakhstan's Putintseva and reach her third career singles final. Her last final came in June of 2018, when she won her lone singles title to date on the grass of s'-Hertogenbosch.
"Playing well is what will keep me where I am and what will help me improve," Krunic said afterward. "I’m happy to be in the final, but I think first of all, my game is what brings me to the final. So that’s definitely the most important thing, and I’m just focusing on keeping that level, so I can hopefully have more finals like this."
World No.105 Krunic snapped Putintseva's eight-match Budpaest winning streak, converting four of her ten break points to sweep to victory. Krunic also staved off all seven of the break points she faced on the day.
"I did not give [Putintseva] a chance to prolong the game and make points longer and show her skillset," Krunic said. "I just tried to be the first one who was going to be aggressive and dictate the game."
Krunic's latest victory continues her blistering run through the field this week, where she has not dropped a set. After beating Laura Siegemund 6-3, 6-4 in the first round, Krunic dropped only six games combined in her three subsequent wins over Zhang Shuai, Wang Xiyu, and Putintseva.
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The result will bolster Krunic's resurgence in the WTA Tour singles rankings. The former Top 50 player rose nearly 100 spots in the rankings last season, finishing 2021 at No.137, and she is now on the brink of a projected return to the Top 100.
Krunic's opponent in Sunday's championship match will be qualifier Bernarda Pera of the United States, who moved into the first tour-level singles final of her career after rolling past No.9 seed and Hungarian No.1 Anna Bondar 6-3, 6-4.
Pera took 1 hour and 35 minutes to end the run of the homeland favorite and book a spot in a Hologic WTA Tour singles final at last. Pera, currently ranked World No.130, had gone 0-for-4 in her previous semifinal appearances.
The American had to fight to the finish as she was broken for only the second time all day when serving for the match at 5-3. However, a forehand winner opened the next game to get Pera back on track, and she prevailed after a Bondar double fault on the second match point.
Like Krunic, Pera has not dropped a set all week. Pera's pristine play extends back to the qualifying rounds, where she won her two matches in straight sets as well.
Pera has beaten Krunic in their two previous meetings, most recently in the first round of Moscow last year, when they were both qualifiers into the main draw.