Veronika Kudermetova ended the fairytale run of Paula Badosa in Charleston Saturday, booking a final showdown with Danka Kovinic in the WTA clay court tournament.
Kudermetova, the 15th seed from Russia, overcame her nerves to beat Badosa 6-3, 6-3 and reach her second final of the season.
She fell to Aryna Sabalenka in the title match at Abu Dhabi in January.
Montenegro’s Kovinic defeated Tunisian Ons Jabeur 6-3, 6-2 to give herself a chance at a first WTA crown.
Spain’s Badosa, ranked 71st in the world, had reached the semi-finals with a 6-4, 6-3 upset of world number one Ashleigh Barty of Australia.
It was just the second win of her career over a top-20 player, the first coming in the second round against 12th-ranked Swiss Belinda Bencic.
But Kudermetova, ranked 38th in the world, fired 28 winners — two more than her 26 unforced errors — and converted four of her six break chances to beat Badosa — who was able to take advantage of just one of her five break point opportunities.
“Today, I tried to play more aggressive than I played in Abu Dhabi,” said Kudermetova, who needed three sets to get past Badosa in the third round there on the way to the final.
“It was a good match for me because I was really nervous. I showed a lot of emotion — I crushed my racquet — but I like this match.”
Kudermetova, who hasn’t dropped a set this week, closed out the contest with back-to-back aces.
Kovinic, ranked 91st in the world, is in her first final in almost five years and her first at the 500 level.
After laboring almost three hours to beat Yulia Putintseva on Friday she needed just 78 minutes to beat 28th-ranked Jabeur.
“I feel wonderful right now, to be honest,” Kovinic said on court after converting her third match point.
“Even though I’m a little bit tired, I gave my best on the court today to make it through. I was very decisive today.”
Sunday’s final will be the first main-draw meeting between Kudermetova and Kovinic. Kudermetova beat Kovinic when they met in the Shenzhen qualifiers in 2019.