The top two seeds at the Jasmin Open Monastir, Jasmine Paolini and Elise Mertens, will square off in the WTA 250 hard-court final after semifinal wins on Saturday.
In the day's first match, No.1 seed Paolini of Italy outlasted No.4 seed Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 to book her spot in the final.
No.2 seed Mertens of Belgium, the defending champion, followed with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over No.8 seed Clara Burel of France.
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Mertens will bring a 3-1 head-to-head lead over Paolini into the final, but three of their four meetings have gone three sets. In their most recent clash, Mertens battled back from 4-1 down in the third set to edge past Paolini 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 in the opening round of Doha last year.
Paolini grabbed a place in her second WTA singles final of the season with her 2-hour and 25-minute win over Tsurenko. Currently at a career-high ranking of No.30, Paolini is a win away from her second career WTA singles title, having previously hoisted the trophy at Portoroz in 2021.
In the first career meeting between Paolini and Tsurenko, the Italian moved through the first set without ever allowing Tsurenko to hold her service. Paolini was 4-for-7 on break points in the first set, while Tsurenko went 2-for-13.
Tsurenko rebounded in the second set, taking command after she hit a passing winner to break for a 4-3 lead. Tsurenko failed to capitalize on her first five set points, but she converted her sixth chance after a Paolini rally forehand found the net.
But the third set resembled the first as Paolini broke Tsurenko twice successively en route to a 5-0 advantage. Tsurenko clawed one break back but dropped serve again at 5-2, putting Paolini through to another final.
"It was a very tough match, she’s a very good player," Paolini said afterwards. "I think I moved the ball very well and was aggressive all the time. I think that was the key, because with her, it’s tough to rally because she’s very solid."
Mertens's victory was more straightforward, as she notched her fourth consecutive straight-sets win of the week with the 1-hour and 23-minute victory over Burel.
Mertens remains undefeated in Monastir, with a 9-0 win-loss record at the event. The Belgian won her seventh and most recent WTA singles title at the inaugural edition last year, and she is one win away from her first successful title defense since she went back-to-back in Hobart in 2017 and 2018.
"It was a pretty good match from my side today," Mertens said on court after the match. "I didn’t make a lot of mistakes, I played pretty solid. I really wanted to win today to get back in Monastir’s final, like last year."
Despite the routine scoreline, the first set took nearly an hour as Mertens had to face five break points, dropping serve twice. But Mertens never let Burel hold serve in the entire match, and the second set was swifter with Mertens taking it in a half-hour.