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Saturday, June 14, 2008
Wickmayer continues rise through ranks, reaches DFS final

Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, England -- Yanina Wickmayer reached her first WTA Tour final, defeating Bethanie Mattek 7-5, 7-6 (2) Saturday at the DFS Classic, a Wimbledon warmup.

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The 18-year-old Belgian used a strong serve to overcome the 81st-ranked American. She will play 12th-seeded Katerina Bondarenko, who also reached her first WTA final by beating Marina Ekatovic of New Zealand 6-3, 6-2.

Wickmayer's win continued the momentum that has helped her climb more than 400 places in a year.

"I started the week pretty well and have played better tennis every day," she said. "My strokes are getting better [on grass] ... and that gives me confidence."

Wickmayer led the first set 5-1, only for Mattek to rally to 5-5 by going to the net.

Wickmayer recovered to take the set, but then fell behind 4-1 in the second set. The Belgian again recovered and pressured Mattek's serve to induce two double-faults at deuce in the seventh game.

Wickmayer needed a tiebreaker to win with some thunderous drives and one crushing topspin lob.

Bondarenko, the only seeded player left after a week of upsets, won eight out of nine of her service games.

She took an early lead and dominated the match.

"This is the best I have played on grass," Bondarenko said. "But it's not my best performance. It has exceeded my expectations, and there will be no pressure for me in the final."