MONTERREY, Mexico - Victoria Azarenka will contest her first singles final in over three years at the Abierto GNP Seguros on Sunday.
The No.5 seed came through a semifinal match of former World No.1s and Grand Slam champions against top seed Angelique Kerber, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 to reach her first singles final since returning to the WTA after the birth of her son Leo in December of 2016.
"It's quite incredible. I'm very pleased with the way I played today. It was an important match to see how I could do under pressure against a top player," Azarenka said.
"I haven't won many of those in the last couple of years, so it's good that I was able to turn it around and pick up my level, so I'm happy about that."
Mexican soil has been kind to Azarenka in 2019, as the Belarusian won her first tournament of any kind as a mom in doubles with Zheng Saisai in Acapulco in early March.
The 29-year-old last reached a singles final in March of 2016, where she pulled off the 'Sunshine Double' in Indian Wells and Miami before announcing her pregnancy later that year.
Azarenka improved her head-to-head against Kerber to 8-1 overall, as she first rallied from a break down in the first set by winning the final four games.
After falling behind 5-2 in the second set, the two-time Australian Open champion pulled closer, saving a set point and winning two straight games, but Kerber ultimately served it out at her third opportunity.
The German was unable to capitalize on the momentum in the final set, however, as Azarenka surrendered just six points over the first five games to cruise through to a final meeting with No.2 seed Garbiñe Muguruza.
"I think that in the second set, I was coming back from 5-2 and I was really close to making it 5-all," Azarenka said of the match's conclusion.
"I was picking up my level from there, and I felt like I started the first couple of games [of the third] really strong, took my opportunities and was aggressive."
Azarenka hit 35 winners to 32 unforced errors in the match, ending up on the plus-side of her ratio while Kerber racked up 30 winners to 40 unforced.
The Belarusian also proved more effective on her break point chances, as she converted 6-of-12 overall, while Kerber went just 4-for-14.
"I'm getting back used to playing, and I'm trying to make better decisions, better choices under pressure," Azarenka assessed.
"It's all about taking one step at a time. To put it all together is always more tricky, so I'm glad that I'm able to put little pieces together in the important moments.
"It was probably the most consistent [match for her this year]. I've been playing quite a few good matches, but not throughout the full match. Throughout the full match today, I felt like my level was pretty good."