Belinda Bencic reached her second final of the year on Saturday with a straight-sets win over Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil in the WTA 500 event in Abu Dhabi.
The Swiss second seed eased to a 6-2, 6-3 victory and registered her 11th win of 2023, tying Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka for most tour wins so far.
Meanwhile, Petra Martic of Croatia defeated Greek top seed and world No 7 Maria Sakkari in three sets on Saturday to reach the WTA 250 Linz Open final, where she will face Anastasia Potapova.
Olympic champion Bencic won the Adelaide International title last month for her seventh career WTA singles title.
“The work we’re putting in on the practice court is showing already. I didn’t expect it to go so fast, but that doesn’t mean we have to slow down,” said Bencic after her 90-minute win.
Haddad Maia had taken a total of seven hours and 43 minutes to win three three-setters on her way to the last four while Bencic had spent only three hours and 20 minutes on court in her earlier rounds.
World No 9 Bencic will face Liudmila Samsonova in Sunday’s championship match looking to overturn an 0-3 losing record against the big-hitting Russian player.
Samsonova, ranked at 19 in the world, outlasted Zheng Qinwen of China, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 in two hours and 19 minutes in her semifinal.
Eighth-seeded Samsonova won three titles last season, including in Tokyo, where she defeated Zheng in the final.
Samsonova hit 10 aces on Saturday with Zheng unleashing 15.
The 24-year-old Russian won her first career title, on the grass of Berlin in 2021, by beating Bencic in the final.
Martic’s first win over Sakkari
Martic, ranked 34 in the world, came through 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in Austria to record her first win in three meetings with the powerful Sakkari.
“A really good match today,” said Martic. “Obviously, very physical, very long. Maria is a great player, she never gives you any free points, so you have to work really hard out there if you want to beat her.”
Russian world No 44 Potapova defeated former French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-7 (4), 6-3 in her semifinal.