Tennis: Putintseva, Mladenovic into St Petersburg final

Kristina Mladenovic of France prepares to serve the ball during her semi final match against Russia's Natalia Vikhlyantseva.
Kristina Mladenovic of France prepares to serve the ball during her semi final match against Russia's Natalia Vikhlyantseva.PHOTO: EPA

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.”