Czech favorite Maria Bouzkova and in-form Anastasia Potapova will duel for the singles title at the Livesport Prague Open after convincing semifinal victories.
No.8 seed Bouzkova, the ninth Czech to make the final in tournament history, ended the breakout run of big-hitting 17-year-old compatriot Linda Noskova in the first semifinal, 7-6(4), 6-3, before No.7 seed Potapova followed her into the championship with a 6-3, 6-0 win over China's Wang Qiang.
Both players are through to their second Hologic WTA Tour singles final this season. Bouzkova was runner-up to Sloane Stephens in Guadalajara, Mexico in February, while Potapova captured her first career title on the clay courts of Istanbul, Turkey in April. Bouzkova has been a finalist three times previously in WTA events, but is in search of her first win.
Bouzkova needed 1 hour and 42 minutes to overcome wildcard Noskova, who knocked out No. 5 seed Alizé Cornet in the second round. She led 5-3 in the first set, but needed to come back from 3-1 down in the eventual tiebreak to win it. In the second set, she also trailed 3-1.
"She's a very aggressive player so I knew what I was going to face in the match. I just had to fight from the first ball to last and I'm just very happy with the win today," Bouzkova said after the match.
"I just told myself to keep staying in the moment, to take it point by point. She plays so aggressive so there were times where she was making unbelievable shots, but I just tried to stay there to turn it around and I'm just really happy that I was able to do that."
Home cooking: Bouzkova is bidding to become the fifth Czech to win on home soil since the event debuted at tour-level in 2015, joining Karolina Pliskova, Lucie Safarova, Petra Kvitova and Barbora Krejcikova. Lucie Hradecka (2015), Kristyna Pliskova (2017), Karolina Muchova (2019) and Tereza Martincova (2021) have been runners-up.
New wave of Czech teenagers makes impact in Prague
Finalee🥰🙏🏼 Finals at home❤️ @tennispragueopn bez vás by to nešlo💪🏼🐬 Tak zase zítra!🍀 #teamBouzie #LudekSipla @sportpics.cz pic.twitter.com/J6YZMRKKFI— Marie Bouzkova (@MarieBouzkova) July 30, 2022
Potapova on a roll: After taking out 17-year-old Noskova, Bouzkova will have to slow down 21-year-old Potapova to do that. Potapova's only lost 18 games in eight sets this week, including a thumping 6-1, 6-1 win over top seed and World No.2 Anett Kontaveit in the quarterfinals, and that form continued against Wang.
Like Bouzkova, Potapova is through to her fourth career Hologic WTA Tour singles final. She needed just 60 minutes to beat Wang: She won five of the first six games, and then the last seven.
"In the second set, I got more confident. In the first set, I was a little bit more nervous, maybe thinking too much about the finals and everything," Potapova said. "In the second set, I was just trying to play as free as I wanted to."
Championship outlook: Bouzkova and Potapova have played once previously, just earlier this year in qualifying at the Miami Open. Bouzkova was a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 winner in that match, which Potapova called one of the best she's played this year even in defeat.
"I'm sure she's going to be very confident because she's playing at home ... but at the same time, it's always tough," Potapova added. "I'm just going to enjoy the final, because there are not so many days where you play the finals."