Bernarda Pera's summer surge continued in style at the Hamburg European Open as the American defeated No.7 seed Maryna Zanevska 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals.
The victory puts No.81-ranked Pera, who captured her maiden Hologic WTA Tour title last week in Budapest, into her second final in a row. The 27-year-old has now won 11 straight matches at all levels, stretching back to Budapest qualifying, and 22 consecutive sets.
Remarkably, Pera's career-best streak comprises a boomerang in form from the five-match losing streak with which she entered Budapest. Prior to this month, she had never reached a tour-level final, though she was runner-up at WTA 125 level for the first time in Karlsruhe in May (losing to Mayar Sherif).
Earlier this year, Pera was sidelined for two months after sustaining a right thigh injury against Zanevska in Doha qualifying. Her tour-level record this season was 2-5 following Wimbledon; now, it is 11-5. She will face either No.1 seed Anett Kontaveit or Anastasia Potapova in the final.
"I’ve been working hard for a long time, and I felt good in practice, and I wasn’t able to execute that in matches," Pera said. "Something changed, maybe I relaxed a little bit. One win after another, the confidence grows a little bit, and it changes."
Match management: Confident execution of her powerful serve and forehand has underpinned Pera's strong form, and she maintained that against Zanevska to strike 23 winners compared to the Belgian's 14. Pera also kept her unforced error count down to 14, against Zanevska's 16, and not only landed 70% of her first serves but won 73% of the points behind it.
Crucially for Pera, she quashed all potential turning points quickly. Up a 4-1 double break in the first set, a dead net cord paved the way for Zanevska to regain one of the breaks. Pera simply smacked another forehand winner to break her opponent in the next game and close out the set with the minimum of fuss.
In the second set, Zanevska began to use her own forehand to take control of more rallies, though was unable to turn the occasional highlight into sustained momentum. The World No.72 battled through a five-deuce hold in the seventh game to keep the deficit to one break, but Pera was unstoppable. She lost just two further points behind her serve, sealing the win with a rapid-fire love hold.
Kontaveit awaits: World No.2 Anett Kontaveit will be Pera's opponent in the final, after Kontaveit defeated Anastasia Potapova 6-3, 7-5 in 1 hour and 43 minutes. Kontaveit is now into her 16th career final and seeks her seventh singles title.
"I thought I had to play really good tennis to beat Anastasia today," Kontaveit said. "I’m very happy with the way I was fighting and trying my hardest for every point."
Top seed Kontaveit is into her first final since finishing runner-up to Iga Swiatek at Doha in February. The Estonian is the fourth player to reach at least three singles finals this year, joining Swiatek, Ons Jabeur and Veronika Kudermetova.
Kontaveit had 17 winners in the first set, nearly doubling Potapova's nine, and closed out the opener with a backhand winner down the line. Kontaveit had early control of the second set as well, but Potapova fought back from a double-break down at 5-2 to level at 5-5.
However, Kontaveit garnered her seventh break of the day to lead 6-5, and she served out the match on her third time of asking, setting up a showdown with Pera in Saturday's final.
Kontaveit and Pera played for the first time just last month in the first round of Wimbledon. Kontaveit won that clash 7-5, 6-1.