This is James of Moo's Tennis Blog taking over Women's Tennis Blog for the weekend. The final for the BNP Paribas Fortis Diamond Games in Antwerp is all set and will see the number three seed, Andrea Petkovic take on the number five seed, Carla Suarez Navarro. In the first of the semi-finals, Carla Suarez Navarro defeated Karolina Pliskova, 6-2 6-2 in 61 minutes. It was an excellent display from Suarez Navarro, who served well and managed to consistently get a tired Pliskova on the run. Pliskova had done well to win three matches in Antwerp, but it appeared her weekend in Canada on Fed Cup duty (six hours time difference) finally caught up with her.
Pliskova showed some brief resistance in the second set. She recovered one break of serve and then when Suarez Navarro went up a break of serve again, Pliskova had another break back point. However Suarez Navarro produced the shot of the match with a miraculous get. From that point, the rest was history as Suarez Navarro sealed the win and her first appearance in a Premier final. Suarez Navarro finished with stats of 13 winners to 10 unforced errors, meanwhile Pliskova hit less winners (11) and many more unforced errors (26). Pliskova's serving stats were also poor; 38% first serves in is not going to get the job done…
In the second of the semi-finals, Andrea Petkovic edged Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in a thoroughly entertaining match, 7-6(2) 7-6(6) in two hours and 24 minutes. The first set was an absolute rollercoaster; Petkovic led 4-0 and 5-1, playing clean and assertive tennis. Zahlavova Strycova was struggling on her serve, but she soon found some rhythm as errors started to creep into Petkovic's game. Petkovic served for the first set twice and had a set point, but Zahlavova Strycova came back to win five straight games. However, when given the chance to serve out the set herself, Zahlavova Strycova was unable to convert as Petkovic won 11 of the last 14 points to bag the opening set on the tiebreak.
Petkovic carried that momentum into the second set as she quickly went up a break. It felt somewhat similar to her quarter-final with Dominika Cibulkova, but Zahlavova Strycova wasn't ready to back down just yet. She played some of her best tennis of the match to get back on serve. The second set was a very engaging watch with plenty of fun rallies. Zahlavova Strycova is such an entertaining player to watch for both good and bad reasons! She's always a treat on the changeovers and had an amusing exchange with her coach where she called herself "fricking stupid". Petkovic didn't buckle facing scoreboard pressure at *4-5 and *5-6 and saved a set point in the second set tiebreak to advance to the final.
Petkovic and Suarez Navarro are tied at 2-2 in their head-to-head; their last meeting was at the Tournament of Champions event in Sofia at the end of 2014 where CSN won in straight sets, 6-0 6-4. The final will take place at not before 2.30pm local time in Belgium.
Attention will soon turn to the Premier 5 event in Dubai where the main draw starts tomorrow! The two finalists from Antwerp have both been given performance byes in the first round.