No.4 seed Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic pulled off a comeback win in the Cymbiotika San Diego Open semifinals on Friday, battling back from a set and a break down to oust Danielle Collins of the United States 3-6, 7-5, 6-2.
In the first meeting between the former Top 10 players, 2021 Roland Garros champion Krejcikova took 2 hours and 21 minutes to outlast 2022 Australian Open finalist Collins and clinch a spot in Saturday’s final at the WTA 500 hard-court event.
"I’m definitely happy with the way that I was able to fight back, because I felt like I was down most of the match," Krejcikova said, after her win. "I think I was very strong mentally, in my head, and I was just fighting for every ball."
Currently ranked World No.13, Krejcikova will face another American in the final -- 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin. Kenin beat qualifier Emma Navarro in the day's second semifinal, moving into her first singles final in nearly three years.
Krejcikova defeated Kenin in their only previous meeting, a 6-1, 6-4 victory on the clay courts of Rome in 2021.
On a roll again: Krejcikova came into San Diego on a four-match losing streak, which included an injury retirement in the second round of Wimbledon and a first-round loss at the US Open.
However, the former World No.2 has seen her fortunes change in California. Krejcikova notched straight-sets wins over Anhelina Kalinina and Beatriz Haddad Maia in her first two matches this week, before her come-from-behind victory over 43rd-ranked Collins.
Krejcikova is now into her third final of the season. She won the WTA 1000 event in Dubai in February, beating the then-Top 3 players in the world, Aryna Sabalenka, Jessica Pegula and Iga Swiatek in succession. Krejcikova also reached the Birmingham final in June.
With her latest win, Krejcikova extended her nearly perfect record in Hologic WTA Tour semifinals. The Czech has reached 12 tour-level semifinals in her career and has won 11 of them (3-0 this year).
Match moments: Krejcikova was undone by four double faults in the first set as big-hitting Collins eased to a set-and-a-break lead at 6-3, 1-0. Krejcikova pulled back on serve in the next game, then saved herself with a lob that just fell inside the baseline en route to a hold for 5-4.
Krejcikova slammed an ace to hold for 6-5 in the second set, then leveled the match at one set apiece by breaking serve with a backhand crosscourt return winner on her first set point.
In the third set, Krejcikova took control by firing one forehand winner to break for 3-1 and another to consolidate for 4-1. At 5-2, Krejcikova used a winner from the opposite wing to convert her first match point. The Czech finished the encounter with 30 winners to Collins's 22.
"Danielle, she was playing well, and she was hitting her spots," Krejcikova said. "She was just really giving me a hard time. But I stayed mentally really tough, and I just wanted to go for every single ball until the end. At the end, I celebrated because I felt that the mental part was a really big key today."