Hobart, Jan 11 (IANS) Unseeded Slovakian Anna Karolina Schmiedlova stormed into her first WTA final in Australia after defeating former World No.7 Belinda Bencic in three sets at the Hobart International tennis meet.
The 24-year-old, World No.77, reeled off the last four games of the match, holding her own confidently against a frustrated and emotional Bencic, reports Efe.
She fired 42 winners to Bencic’s 26 and won the match 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-2 after a two-and-a-half-hour battle.
“I still can’t believe it, because I was not expecting this at all,” Schmiedlova said after the match.
“Especially tough today against Belinda – I’ve known her since I was a child, we practice together sometimes and she’s a really good friend of mine. So it wasn’t an easy match. She’s a great player, but it’s a really great feeling the way I played,” she added.
Bencic had begun the match confidently. However, it was Schmiedlova who claimed the first break at 4-2.
She dominated the tiebreak, allowing her opponent just two points as she won the opening set.
Bencic played better in the second set, which she won, sending the match into a decider.
“I think I improved a bit on my serve, and just tried to be focused on every point. I think that third set was really good, better than the first for me,” Schmiedlova said.
“I lost in China, playing very bad, then I came here and it was really windy. I didn’t really play very well in practices, so I tried to just win maybe one match here or play one long match. To be in the final, I never expected it,” she added.
Schmiedlova will now play against either sixth seed Alize Cornet from France or the fast-rising American Sofia Kenin.
If Schmiedlova wins the final, she will be the first Slovak to lift the Hobart trophy since 2002 champion Martina Sucha.