Caroline Dolehide's dream week in Guadalajara will continue on to championship Saturday.
Playing in her first career WTA singles semifinal, Dolehide advanced to her first career WTA singles final with a 7-5, 6-3 win over 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in an all-American semifinal on Friday.
World No.111 Dolehide, 25, in the third unseeded finalist at WTA 1000 level this year, but by far the lowest ranked. She joins Karolina Muchova (Cincinnati) and Barbora Krejcikova (Dubai) in the achievement, and is the second WTA 1000 finalist ranked outside the Top 100 since the format was introduced in 2009. (She joins two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in that exclusive club, as Kuznetsova was ranked No.153 when she reached the final in Cincinnati in 2019.)
All three of Dolehide and Kenin's previous meetings came at ITF tournaments, as the two Americans last played six years ago. Dolehide was a break down in both sets against her more accomplished compatriot, but bounced back to wrap up her third win in four meetings with Kenin in 1 hour and 25 minutes.
"It feels amazing, and I'm so excited for tomorrow ... I'm really proud of myself for getting through that one today, because Sonya is not an easy player to get by," Dolehide said afterwards. "I had to try to adjust a few things, and at the end of the day, I just played smart."
From 4-2 down in the opener, Dolehide won three straight games to lead 5-4, and then eight straight points from 5-5, to ultimately wrap up a one-set lead. In set two, she trailed 3-1, and won five straight games. She denied Kenin three chances to extend her lead to 4-2 in the sixth game before getting back on serve, and also saved five break points in the final game before serving out victory on her first match point.
"After being down a break in both sets, I found what was working and I stuck with it," Dolehide, who hit 16 winners to Kenin's 13, added.
Kenin also stuck 32 unforced errors off the ground in defeat, and only saved one of the five break points she faced.
Up next for Dolehide in her first-ever WTA 1000 final is No.2 seed Maria Sakkari, who beat No.3 seed Caroline Garcia in Friday's other semifinal. The two have never played, and it will only be Dolehide's fifth career match against a Top 10 player. She's 0-4 in such matches all-time, including 0-2 this year.