No.1 seed Veronika Kudermetova reached her first Hologic WTA Tour singles final in over a year by defeating Viktoria Hruncakova 6-3, 6-2 in the Libéma Open semifinals on Saturday.
"It was not easy, because Viktoria, she played really well, she played very aggressive," Kudermetova said, after her win. "I think it was really important to stay focused and stay aggressive in the match."
Kudermetova's final opponent in the WTA 250 grass-court event will be No.4 seed and defending champion Ekaterina Alexandrova, who outlasted No.7 seed Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-1, 7-6(1) in Saturday's earlier semifinal.
Kudermetova leads her head-to-head with Alexandrova by 2-1 overall. But Alexandrova's win in their head-to-head came in 's-Hertogenbosch last year, when she beat Kudermetova in the semifinals en route to the title.
"[Alexandrova] plays very aggressive, especially on the grass, it’s not easy," Kudermetova said. "But the final, it’s kind of another extra tournament, and I will try to stay focused and try to play my best tennis."
Coming into this week, World No.14 Kudermetova had already reached four semifinals this year, including at WTA 1000 clay-court events in Madrid and Rome. However, Kudermetova had lost all four of those semifinal matches. Prior to this week, her most recent final came in April of 2022 at Istanbul.
At last, Kudermetova booked a spot in a 2023 singles final with her 1-hour and 22-minute victory over 144th-ranked Hruncakova, who was contesting her first tour-level semifinal since 2019. Kudermetova is now 3-0 against former Top 50 player Hruncakova (née Kuzmova).
Kudermetova has yet to lose a set this week, earning another swift victory against powerful Hruncakova. Kudermetova played the cleaner match with 26 winners to 18 unforced errors; by contrast, Hruncakova had only 11 winners and fired 21 unforced errors.
Kudermetova had to fend off four break points combined in her first two service games of the second set, but once she got through those tussles, the top seed sailed through. In total, Kudermetova saved all six of the break points she faced during the semifinal showdown.
Like Kudermetova, 26th-ranked Alexandrova has also not dropped a set this week. In fact, Alexandrova has won 18 consecutive sets at the Libéma Open since she lost the opening set of her first-round match last year against Dayana Yastremska.
"Playing here again in the final, it’s an amazing feeling," Alexandrova said. "To be back here after a year and playing good, it’s giving [me] so much confidence and enjoyment. And I really like to spend my time here, so I was doing my best to stay here longer."
On Saturday, Alexandrova needed only 26 minutes to cruise through the first set, but Sasnovich put up a much sterner test in the second set. World No.71 Sasnovich served for that set at 5-4 before sturdy returns by big-hitting Alexandrova earned her the break back and level footing at 5-5.
Searing, well-timed groundstrokes put Alexandrova in complete control of the second-set tiebreak, and she closed out the victory after 1 hour and 18 minutes of play. Alexandrova went 5-for-5 on break points and slammed six aces in the clash.
"It was a quite difficult match," Alexandrova said. "Maybe the first set was much easier than the second one, but I think [Sasnovich] played so much better in the second set, and it was difficult to do something about it."