CHARLESTON, S.C. — No matter how the final match goes, there will be a surprise champion at the Family Circle Cup.
No. 14 seed Andrea Petkovic of Germany and Jana Cepelova of Slovakia advance to the finals Saturday, both rallying late in their matches to set up an unlikely championship today.
Petkovic rallied in the final two sets to defeat sixth-seeded Eugenie Bouchard 1-6, 6-3, 7-5, while Cepelova came back from 4-1 down in a third-set tiebreaker to oust 17-year-old Swiss qualifier Belinda Bencic 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (7).
Petkovic appeared overwhelmed by the 20-year-old Canadian early on, losing seven straight games and trailing 3-2 in the second set. That’s when the German took control, winning four consecutive games to force a decisive set.
Petkovic was trailing 4-2 in that one before digging in a final time and breaking Bouchard’s serve twice down the stretch to advance to her first championship since Washington, D.C., last August where she fell to Magdalena Rybarikova in straight sets.
Petkovic broke down and cried with a towel over her head after the match, happy she was again in this position after the past three years dealing with injuries to her ankle, knee and back that caused her to miss nine months on tour.
“I was just so relieved and I was proud that I came back from all these injuries, and I never thought that I would play finals in the big tournaments again,” said Petkovic, who hadn’t gotten past the quarterfinals in her six previous tournaments this season.
Petkovic, ranked 40th in the world, calmly analyzed her first-set shortcomings and understood that with a few changes, she could get back in the match.
“I wasn’t that upset because I felt Genie was playing incredible tennis,” she said. “I just lacked that 10 percent.”
So Petkovic moved a step closer to the baseline so she could hit deeper forehands and put Bouchard on her heels. Things finally clicked midway through the second set as Petkovic fought off three break points to hold serve and begin her comeback.
“I said, ‘Even if I miss more, I’m going to have to get the length or she’s going to kill me,”’ Petkovic said.
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