PRAGUE: Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka set up an all-Belarusian final at the Ostrava Open after winning their semifinals on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
Former world number one Azarenka strolled past Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-1, 6-3 and Sabalenka then beat Jennifer Brady of the United States 6-4, 6-4.
Azarenka, the world number 14 and the tournament’s fourth seed, fought off four break points in the opening game but then eased through the first set, leaning on a superb first serve.
Her magic waned slightly when she was 4-0 up in the second as she let the 23rd-ranked Greek snatch a break and come within a game.
But Azarenka, this year’s US Open finalist, managed to hold on to her serve in a tight eighth game and then converted her first match point on Sakkari’s serve.
“I was able to handle the momentum shift well,” Azarenka said.
“She started to play more freely and go for really, really big shots and that dynamic switched a bit in the second set so I’m happy that I was able to turn that around.”
“The important thing was to stay strong and finish the match,” added the 31-year-old.
Third seed Sabalenka took no risks against Brady after having to come back from a set down in her previous two matches.
The big-hitting world number 12 could rely on her serve and fierce groundstrokes, cruising to an easy first set.
Sabalenka saved two break points in game eight of the second set and then held serve, which was all she needed to make the final.
“I’m so happy with this win because she played really well. She’s a really aggressive player and her forehand and her serve are really dangerous,” said Sabalenka.
Looking at Sunday’s final, Sabalenka said the chances were 50-50.
“She’s fighting for each point and it’s going to be really interesting,” she said.
“It will all depend on our mental game. We’ll see, I’m ready.”