BUCHAREST, Romania - No.2 seed Mihaela Buzarnescu battled into her fifth WTA semifinal of the season at the BRD Bucharest Open on Friday, as she ended the run of China's Wang Yafan in straight sets, 7-6(4), 6-3.
The Romanian No.2, but top-ranked home favorite in the field with the absence of World No.1 Simona Halep, needed over two hours to see off the Chinese World No.84 and reach the final four, despite the match being decided in straight sets.
The hometown heroine will be on court twice on Saturday, as she and Raluca Olaru booked their spots in the final four on Thursday as the top seeds.
"It’s not easy at all to be in both semifinals, so I enjoy these moments and I am really happy that tomorrow, [the fans] will get to see me twice and hopefully I will be able to play on Sunday as well," she said.
"I am really okay now with the public. I had more emotions before because I wanted to prove to them that I’m playing good at home for the first time. Today, I felt really good and comfortable and it’s going to be fine from now on."
The match length was in part due to both players' effectiveness on return, as they combined to create 31 chances on return overall in the match.
In victory, Buzarnescu was forced to defend a staggering 18 break points on serve over the course of the match, though she faced them in just four of her 11 service games overall.
A marathon, six-deuce game to begin the match on Wang's serve set the tone for the afternoon, as the Chinese No.3 saved four break points en route to holding to begin the match. Though she'd drop serve in her next game, the 24-year-old bounced back quickly to win four of the next five to find herself serving for the set.
However, Buzarnescu had all the answers as she faced the deficit, breaking to 15 to stay in the set, and late shook off the disappointment of letting four break points slip by in the 11th game of the set.
The Romanian No.2 won four straight points in the tiebreak before eventually sealing an opener which took 76 minutes on her third set point.
The second set again saw Wang take an early lead, but she was unable to come through another statement game on serve as Buzarnescu needed six opportunities to level the set at 2-2.
The Romanian began to find her feet after that, as she won four of the last five games of the match, and punctuated victory with a forehand winner to seal her first - and only - love hold of the match.
The 30-year-old was the aggressor over the course of the victory, as she hammered 43 winners to Wang's 11, but also 38 unforced errors to Wang's 15.
Buzarnescu will next face Croatia's Petra Martic for a spot in her third singles final of the season, after the Croatian No.4 seed needed three hours and eight minutes to defeat Germany's Laura Siegemund, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 to begin Friday's play in Bucharest.
The pair have played twice previously - both matches coming on grass - and Buzarnescu came from a set down to defeat the Croatian in Birmingham before Wimbledon.
"I think every match is different, even if you play three times in a row with the same opponent in three weeks, each match will be different," Buzarnescu said.
"Because this match is going to be on a different surface, it’s going to be a lot different, but it’s going to be a good match. She is a great player and I’m looking forward to play tomorrow."