Overcoming a difficult second half after a dominant opener against Dominika Cibulkova on Friday, Eugenie Bouchard advanced to the final of the Hobart International tennis tournament.
Taking the semifinal tie 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 over her Slovak opponent, Canada’s Bouchard will play in her first WTA final since the Wuhan Open in September 2014.
A series of powerful returns marked an imposing opening set for Bouchard, breaking Cibulkova twice at centre court of the Tasmanian tourney. She added four aces with her serves, never in danger of dropping a game in a 6-1 start.
That narrative changed drastically in the second set when neither player could hold serve through the first eight games until Cibulkova finally managed to take a 5-4 lead. She then broke Bouchard again to win the set 6-4.
Service consistency returned in the third set with the players holding the opening six games. It was then that Cibulkova fell behind. With two break points for Bouchard staring at her on serve, Cibulkova returned just wide and the Canadian went up 4-3. The players held serve in the next two games, the last of which Bouchard put away with a cross-court winner on a strong forehand for the set and match.
Before beating Cibulkova, Bouchard put away Bethanie Mattek-Sands (6-2, 6-1), Alison Van Uytvanck (6-4, 7-5) and Camila Giorgi (6-3, 6-2) this week. She will take on the winner of Alize Cornet versus Johanna Larsson in Saturday’s final.
This is the last tournament for Bouchard ahead of the Australian Open, where her first round opponent will be Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia in a section that includes a potential second round match against world number four Agnieszka Radwanska.
Before she makes the trip to Melbourne for the season’s first major, Bouchard will have a chance in Hobart to win her second career WTA title.