World No.4 Jessica Pegula advanced to her fourth final of the season after defeating Yanina Wickmayer 6-4, 6-3 in the semifinals of the Hana Bank Korea Open. Seede No.1 in Seoul and bidding to capture her second title of the year, Pegula will face No.128 Yuan Yue on Sunday.
"Being half-Korean and being able to be in the final here is something I can always say," Pegula said. "Hopefully I can win, but nonetheless, it's an honor, so I'm really happy."
Already a champion in Montreal this season, Pegula is into her second final of the fall Asian swing after doing so in Tokyo. Facing Wickmayer for the first time, Pegula held off a late challenge from the Belgian to seal the 80-minute win. A late break in the first set gave her the advantage, which she extended to a 4-1 lead in the second set.
"She was really hitting the ball super hard, super flat, and I was trying my best to dig out as many balls as I could and really make her earn points," Pegula said. "I thought I played really well."
Wickmayer mounted a short-lived comeback in the second set, breaking Pegula for the first time from 4-1, 40-15 down. But after Wickmayer consolidated to close the gap to 4-3, Pegula slammed the door. After holding serve to move to 5-3, Pegula broke Wickmayer for a fourth and final time to win.
Pegula will face Yuan for the second time on Sunday, having won their one prior meeting last year at the US Open. The World No.128 Yuan continued her strong run of form during the Asian swing to book a spot in her first Hologic WTA Tour final.
A week after defeating No.29 Elise Mertens at the China Open to post her best career win by ranking, the 25-year-old entered the Seoul semifinals with another big win, this time over No.30 Marie Bouzkova.
Facing down Bektas' aggressive baseline game, Yuan came from a set down to win 6-7, 6-4, 6-2. With the win, the 25-year-old from Yangzhou became the first Chinese player to make the Seoul final.
After squandering a 4-1 lead in the first set, Yuan went unbroken for the remainder of the match. Behind a strong serving performance that saw her tally eight aces and just two break points in the match, Yuan reeled in Bektas, breaking serve four times in eight break-point chances.