SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia (AFP) - Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva reached her first career WTA final after a 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over second seed Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia in St Petersburg on Saturday (Feb 4).
Putintseva will face France’s Kristina Mladenovic, who battled back from a set down to beat Russian wildcard Natalia Vikhlyantseva 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, in Sunday’s final.
“It’s unbelievable!” Putintseva said. “It was extremely hard to oppose such an experienced opponent like Dominika.
“But I didn’t feel any pressure either yesterday or today. I like the city, the arena, I like the tournament very much and I just enjoy playing here.”
Putintseva started the match by breaking Cibulkova immediately, but the world number five broke back twice to take the opening set in 46 minutes.
The 22-year-old refused to surrender though and rallied from behind to knock off Cibulkova in two hours and 20 minutes in what was the pair’s first meeting on tour.
Earlier, 19-year-old Vikhlyantseva, ranked 115th, took the opening set in 58 minutes in her first WTA semi-final.
But Mladenovic, 23, also chasing a maiden title, rattled off the final two sets to book a spot in her fourth career final.
“My physical condition made the difference today,” Mladenovic said.
“I feel well, I feel fresh and I think it’s really good to win such a tough three-setter. And I’m excited to play in the final here.”