DOHA, Qatar - Unseeded 18 year old Jelena Ostapenko displayed some blistering groundstrokes through a 7-5 opening set in the semifinals of the Qatar Total Open, and was leading by an early break in the second before Andrea Petkovic was forced to retire due to injury.
Petkovic survived several long games to take a 5-1 lead to start, but pain in her left thigh and increased pressure from Ostapenko saw that lead slip and the Latvian served out the opening set after winning six games in a row, hitting 26 winners to 17 unforced errors.
"I'm really happy with how I played today," she said in her on-court interview. "I'm sorry for Andrea that she had to retire. It's not nice after reaching the semis because she's great player. I'm really happy that I could fight from 5-1 and win the set.
"I'm really happy to play the finals tomorrow."
Up next for Ostapenko is No.8 seed Carla Suárez Navarro, who dismantled Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-2, 6-0, in the first semifinal. Into her second career final - and the biggest of her career after she finished runner-up at the Coupe Banque National last fall - Ostapenko beat Suárez Navarro in their only previous encounter, dropping just two games when they played at last year's Wimbledon Championships.
"She has been playing great this week; she had some really great matches and I hope I can show my best tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it."
A young woman of few words, the Latvian is poised to crack the Top 50 after an impressive week of wins over Svetlana Kuznetsova and Petra Kvitova, joining fellow 18-year-olds Belinda Bencic and Daria Kasatkina.
"It's just the start of the career; I don't think I have anything to celebrate because I still have to play the finals tomorrow!"