MALLORCA, Spain - Germany's Julia Goerges ended the breakout week on grass for American CiCi Bellis in Mallorca on Saturday, as she rolled into her first-ever WTA final on the surface and first final of 2017, 6-1, 6-1.
In just under an hour, the 28-year-old looked every bit the part of a player who had upset No.1 seed Anastasia Palyuchenkova in the second round, as she hasn't lost four matches this week.
"It just feels special overall, it doesn't matter on which surface it is - it's been a while!" Goerges said. "I just feel great on the grass here, it's been a solid week for me. I'm very happy to be in the final. I just try to play every match as best as I can, and fight as much as I can.
"At the end of the day, I can say I've played four very good matches here so far and obviously, I'm very pleased to play the final tomorrow and going ahead to Wimbledon."
Goerges had a dominant day off the ground in the semifinal victory, as she hammered 27 winners to just 12 unforced errors, hardly allowing the American teenager opportunities to dictate the tennis to her liking. Goerges broke the Bellis serve six times in the match, served six aces and won 77 percent of points behind her first serve.
Playing in her first senior-level tournament on grass, Bellis - who last played lawn tennis in a first round loss in the juniors at Wimbledon three years ago - had herself a banner week; the 18-year-old defeated Carla Suárez Navarro, Mona Barthel and Kristyna Pliskova en route to the last four.
"I needed a little bit of time to figure out the way she's playing; I've watched her quite a few times but I haven't played her before. Obviously, she's very young and she's going to have a bright future. When you just play to her, she likes to hit the ball and redirect the ball very well, so I tried to mix it a little bit, to get the drop shots, and the slice and some volleys in and not only serving bombs. I tried to use this as my weapon today."
The German will contest her seventh career WTA final in Mallorca, having played four on hard courts and won both of her career WTA titles on clay. Georges' aggressive brand of tennis has never been at its most effective on the grass - but she's learning to love the lawns this week.
"[My game] wasn't effective for a while on grass - and now it is!" she joked after the match. "I'm a very aggressive player and I have a big serve, and I think that's a big part of the game on grass - to serve well, and also return well, because you'll always get your chances there...My team always told me that I'm a very good grass court player, I didn't quite believe it, but maybe after [this] week, I should believe it.
"For myself, I know I'm always very dangerous and I'm a very complete player but you always need to prove it...on the court and show those skills. I'm very pleased to do it four matches in a row, and I'm trying to get the fifth one tomorrow."
Should Goerges want to win her fifth straight match and the title in Mallorca, she'll have to go through No.2 seed Anastasija Sevastova to do it.
The Latvian reversed the result of last year's final with a 6-4, 6-2 win over No.3 seed Carolina Garcia in the second semifinal of the day.
As she has all week, Sevastova put on another display of clean, controlled tennis, with 14 winners to just nine unforced errors - while Garcia struggled to match her consistency off the ground and hit just 13 winners to counter 21 unforced errors.
"I think I improve a lot since last year, I'm returning better, moving quite good and serving better," Sevastova said. "That was a key - return, and try to get every ball - to be a wall. Maybe she didn't get any rhythm, but I think I deserved to win. I was relaxed, because I was quite tired from yesterday...I'm feeling good on center court, I like the conditions here."
The Latvian trailed 2-0 in the opening set before running off the next four games, and she never found herself behind again. After surrendering the opening break in the second game, Sevastova never again even faced break point in the match - and Garcia managed to get to deuce on Sevastova's serve just once in the one hour, 14-minute encounter.
"I don't think a lot about points...if you play well, if you improve since last year, the results are going to come," Sevastova said. "I like the courts here, the conditions here...I'm playing 12 hours here on this court!"
The final will see a contrast in styles as Goerges' attacking, baseline tennis takes on Sevastova's varied counterpunching, and the two players will go head-to-head for the first time since Sevastova returned to tennis after nearly two years away in 2015. Overall, Goerges leads the head-to-head 3-1, with the earliest meeting between the two dating back to the ITF Circuit in 2007.
"I think, in the beginning, I played always like that," Sevastova said about her unqiue playing style. "I was serving underhand when I was small. My backhand is and was the same 20 years ago, the forehand I changed and all the other things, but I never tried to be a big hitter. For sure, I've been working on the serve - on grass it's very important."
The duo would have faced off in Saturday's doubles semifinals - but the team of Georges and Xenia Knoll gave Sevastova and Jelena Jankovic a walkover into Sunday's final, where they will face top seeds Martina Hingis and Chan Yung-jan after the singles final.