Top seed Caroline Garcia will face No.3 seed Donna Vekic in the final of the Abierto GNP Seguros in Monterrey, Mexico on Sunday. The World No.5 advanced to her second final of the season by defeating No.4 seed Elise Mertens 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinals.
Earlier, No.31 Vekic advanced to her first final of the season by defeating No.5 seed Zhu Lin 7-5, 6-2.
Garcia has enjoyed a flawless march towards her second Monterrey final, coming eight years after she made her first. The Frenchwoman has not lost a set all week, notching wins over Kara Juvan, Nuria Parrizas Dias, Mayar Sherif, and Mertens. She has faced just six break points across her four wins and has been broken just once.
Garcia came into the match with a 4-2 lead in the head-to-head over Mertens, with her last win coming last summer en route to the Cincinnati title. Garcia played her attacking game with confidence to keep the Belgian at bay, firing 33 winners to just 14 unforced errors in the match. Mertens countered with 17 winners to 15 unforced errors, but struggled to withstand Garcia's relentless pressure.
"It was very intense. Every point as super important since the very first game of the match. We had a lot of break points to save, both of us, and they were saved with a lot of winners."
Stat of the match: Though she broke only once in each set, Garcia generated 12 break point opportunities on the Mertens serve. In contrast, Mertens earned four break chances - more than any other player this week - but could not convert.
Next up: On Sunday, Garcia will look to level her head-to-head record against Vekic. The Croatian has won five of their nine duels, with their last meeting coming at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Garcia is bidding to capture her 12th Hologic WTA Tour title, while Vekic is going for her fourth.
"Donna is having an amazing beginning of the year and a strong end of the year last year also," Garcia said. "She proved already in the past that she's a good player and today she had a solid semifinal. It's a big match for me to play and I'm very excited."
Behind her power baseline game and clutch play on the biggest points of the match against Zhu, Vekic is into the final having dropped just one set this week in Monterrey.
Having never progressed past the second round in her previous three appearances, Vekic is breaking new ground for herself in Monterrey. The Croatian is now 11-5 in semifinal matches on the Hologic WTA Tour and Sunday's final will be her first since finishing as runner-up in San Diego last fall.
In their first meeting since 2015, Vekic and Zhu battled through a tight first set that saw each player earn just one break point. Vekic wiped out Zhu's only chance in her opening service game before coming through on her only break chance in the penultimate game to earn a 6-5 lead. Behind 17 winners to Zhu's nine, Vekic pocketed the first set after 56 minutes.
Brilliant play from Vekic 🪄@DonnaVekic | #AbiertoGNPSeguros pic.twitter.com/iu3tq1XYFX— wta (@WTA) March 4, 2023
"It was not an easy match, it was really solid," Vekic said after the win. "I was just waiting for my opportunity to come and I was lucky that I was patient enough and I used the first opportunity I had to break her. I think I changed the rhythm really well which didn't suit her at all. When I had an easier ball I was aggressive and finished well at the net."
In a match decided by a handful of points, it was Zhu who let her level dip momentarily to give Vekic an insurmountable lead in the second set. Serving down 2-1, Zhu misfired on an overhead and two forehands to give Vekic break points, and then double-faulted to hand over the game. Vekic would not relinquish the lead, adding a second break with fantastic defending to lead 5-2, and closed out her 13th win of the season after 1 hour and 31 minutes.