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By Richard Pagliaro | Saturday, April 10, 2021

 
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Danka Kovinic charged through seven straight games sweeping Ons Jabeur 6-3, 6-2 to roll into the biggest final of her career in Charleston.

Photo credit: Volvo Car Open

Patience is a prerequisite for clay-court success.

Intent on reaching her first final in nearly five years, Danka Kovinic dumped the waiting game in the dirt and went for it.

More: Paula Badosa Stuns World No. 1 Barty

Kovinic charged through seven straight games sweeping Ons Jabeur 6-3, 6-2 to roll into the biggest final of her career in Charleston. She will face Veronika Kudermetova, who topped Paula Badosa, 6-3, 6-3, in the final.




The 26-year-old baseliner from Montenegro has leaped from No. 91 to No. 65 in the live rankings after a week that has seen her take down two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova as well as the dangerous Jabeur.  Kovinic now stands one win from her first WTA championship and will have to beat either 38th-ranked Veronika Kudermetova, or 71st-ranked Spaniard Paula Badosa, who toppled world No. 1 Ash Barty in last night's quarterfinals, to take the title.

All four semifinalists started today this weekend seeking a maiden WTA championship.

Sometimes, will power can be as vital as firepower on clay. Kovinic played with more fire and desire today while Jabeur, who pushed several games to deuce in the second set, was too flat on pivotal points. Despite serving just 50 percent, Kovinic competed with clarity and toughness erasing five of six beak points she faced.




It is Kovinic's third career final and first since the 2016 Istanbul when she fell in three sets.

Prior to her surge in Charleston this week, Kovinic had not won back-to-back matches since Rome last September. Deadlocked at 3-all today, she dug in, tried to run down every ball and hit her shots with a bit more sting to break the match open with that seven-game surge that sparked her through nine of the last 11 games.

"It was a tight opening set as you said 3-all and she made a couple of mistakes," Kovinic told Tennis Channel's Steve Weissman afterward. "I saw the opportunity to take advantage and I know I should hold my serve, which I think I was doing a good job on my service game today.

"And I think in the first set maybe that was the difference."

Though Kovinic toiled three hours prevailing against the grinding game of Yulia Putintseva yesterday and came out wearing heavy taping around her left thigh today, she played with more energy and urgency.

In the eighth game, Jabeur felt the pressure double-faulting to face a break point. Jabeur saved it but jammed a forehand into the bottom of the net gifting the break and a 5-3 lead to her opponent.

Kovinic continued to slide the wide serve on the deuce side effectively. She whipped a wide serve to seal the 36-minute first set despite serving just 40 percent.

Needing to elevate her energy and pump up her play, Jabeur ran into pressure in the first game of the second set. She saved break points but paid the price for a tame drop shot as Kovinic pushed a reply down the line for another break point. When Jabeur sailed a forehand, Kovinic had the opening break.

Under duress in the ensuing game, Kovinic stood tall, erasing three break points to back up the break. Jabeur tried to squeeze in another drop shot but double-faulted away a third break in a row. Kovinic reeled off her sixth straight game going up a set and 3-0.

Tennis Express

It went from bad to worse for Jabeur when she netted a drop-shot return attempt as Kovinic navigated a tough deuce hold for 4-0. 

On her third match point, Kovinic closed her biggest win in 78 minutes when Jabeur put a weary backhand into net

Kudermetova Yet to Drop a Set

Veronika Kudermetova is into her second final of 2021 after dispatching Paula Badosa 6-3 6-3 on Saturday. Kudermetova tagged 28 winners to just 15 for Badosa and improved to 3-0 lifetime against the Spaniard

"I'm really happy that I can find the way how I can win with just second serve against Paula because she is an aggressive player," Kudermetova said.

The Russian says she feels she is playing more intelligent tennis than ever before.

"I think here I start to play smarter than I played before," she said. "I try to use more of my weapons and try to play aggressive, also sometimes I can play just rallies, to feel conditions and everything, but I think also it's very important here I took everything in my hand and keep it til the end, doesn't matter if something is not working I just fight and work, like I do everything that I can."

Sunday's winner will join Clara Tauson, Sara Sorribes Tormo and Leylah Fernandez as first-time winners on the WTA Tour this season. 

 

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