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By Richard Pagliaro | Saturday, October 1, 2022

 
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Barbora Krejcikova overcame a cranky wrist and stubborn Swiss Belinda Bencic 6-7(5), 7-6(2), 6-2, in 3 hours, 23 minutes to reach the Tallinn final.

Photo credit: Getty

Mounting missed opportunity in a marathon match didn't deter Barbora Krejcikova.

Seeing a gritty Belinda Bencic save 17 of 20 break points while Krejcikova coped with a cranky wrist only intensified the Czech's commitment to the cause.

Watch: Moutet and Andreev Nearly Come to Blows

Krejcikova converted her sixth match point subduing Bencic 6-7(5), 7-6(2), 6-2 in a physical three hour, 23-minute triumph to battle into the Tallinn final.




It is Krejcikova's first win in three meetings vs. Bencic and sends her into her second final of the season. Krejcikova, who was runner-up to Paula Badosa in the Sydney final last January, improved to 7-1 in WTA semifinals.

The seventh-seeded Krejcikova will face the winner of the all-Estonian semifinal between Tallinn's hometown heroes, top-seeded Anett Kontaveit and world No. 32 Kaia Kanepi.

The 2021 Roland Garros singles and doubles champion Krejcikova will play for her fourth career title and first since she won Prague in July, 2021.

Poise and patience helped Krejcikova keep her head as Bencic saved all of those break points, including fighting off a pair of set points in the 12th game of the opening set.

Olympic gold-medal champion Bencic broke for 3-2 and served for the set at 5-4 before Krejcikova broke back.

Former world No. 4 Bencic, who edged Krejcikova en route to the Olympic gold medal, hit her second ace, earning three game points to force the tiebreaker, but could not close. The Swiss slapped a forehand into, net giving Krejcikova her eighth break point and a set point. Bencic calmly carved out a forehand drop shot to save set point only to sail a forehand and face a second set point. She slid a serve winner down the middle to erase it.

A feisty Bencic held firm, saving eight of nine break points in the set, then slapping her thigh with her hand forcing the tiebreaker after 67 minutes of play.

Krejcikova opened the breaker with an ace. A sharp-angled backhand return gave Bencic the mini break and a 5-3 lead. On her second set point, Bencic drove a deep return then belted a backhand winner down the line to snatch a one-set lead after 76 minutes. Krejcikova hit 16 winners, six more than her opponent, but saw Bencic save eight of nine break points in the set.

The second-seeded Swiss denied two more break points then fired her fourth ace holding serve for a 2-1 second-set lead.

Deadlocked at 5-all in the second set, Bencic was up 40-love on serve but lost the plot. Krejcikova curled a crosscourt forehand winner for her 12th break point of the day. The 2021 Roland Garros champion lined up her two-hander down the line but sent the shot off the top of the tape and it fluttered wide.

By then, the tenacious Bencic had fought off 11 of 12 break points. Bencic slid her eighth ace out wide for game point then rocketed her ninth ace down the middle capping a hard-fought hold with clenched fist for 6-5.




The former doubles No. 1 held her ground at net repelling a series of passing shots to hold and force the second-set tiebreaker.

Krejcikova opened the tiebreaker with a mini break and gained more steam with each passing point. The Czech spun a crosscourt backhand and followed with a forehand crosscourt pass for a 6-1 lead and a fistful of set points.

When Bencic netted her ninth double fault to git the second set, Krejcikova walked to her court-side seat looking ready for the decider after two hours, 33 minutes of play. Krejcikova hit seven more winners—24 to 17—in that 76-minute second set.

Staring down break point in her first service game of the decider, Bencic saved it with an ace.

Composure was key for Krejcikova, who didn't let the frustration of one conversion in her first 13 break-point chances sap her spirit. On her 14th break point chance, Krejcikova crunched a crosscourt forehand into the corner, waited for Bencic to make her move, then laced a clean backhand winner down the line converting her second break for a 2-0 lead.

Swinging freely, the seventh seed backed up the break at 15 for 3-0.

On her sixth match point, Krejcikova lofted a brilliant defensive lob over the backhand side that settled in the corner. Bencic ran it down to extend the point, but Krejcikova cracked a final forehand winner down the line ending a dramatic three hour, 23-minute battle.

Krejcikova raised her 2022 record to 20-14, including a 3-6 mark in three setters.


 

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