SEOUL: Top seed Jelena Ostapenko advanced to the final of the Korea Open 2022 after injured Emma Raducanu was forced to retire down 4-6, 6-3, 3-0 in the semifinals, here on Saturday.
A champion in 2017, Ostapenko will face No 24 Ekaterina Alexandrova for the title on Sunday.
The official reason for Raducanu's retirement was a left glute injury. The unfortunate injury ended a confidence-boosting run for the 19-year-old, who won three consecutive matches for the first time since winning the 2021 US Open.
In their first meeting on tour, Ostapenko and Raducanu opened the match with blistering intensity from the baseline. Ostapenko saved three break points in the opening game to keep Raducanu at bay and then broke for a 2-0 lead. But the lead was short-lived.
Raducanu broke back immediately to put the set back on serve and her early return pressure would tell the tale for the remainder of the set.
Raducanu took Ostapenko to deuce in the Latvian's first three service games and broke through for a second time at 4-4. With Ostapenko struggling to find consistent range from point to point, Raducanu closed out the first set on her third set point after 53 minutes.
Britain's teenager carried her momentum into the early stages of the second set, breaking Ostapenko for a 2-1 lead. But the 2017 French Open champion found the consistent accuracy she was searching for and reeled off two straight games to get back on serve at 3-2.
After Raducanu took an off-court medical timeout, Ostapenko continued her surge to lead 5-2 and closed out the set to force a third. After a barrage of winners earned Ostapenko a 3-0 lead in the decider, Raducanu retired.
Ostapenko finished the abbreviated match with 40 winners to 29 unforced errors. Raducanu hit 14 winners and 22 unforced errors.
Both Ostapenko and Alexandrova will be bidding for their second titles of the season on Sunday. Alexandrova overpowered Wimbledon semifinalist Tatjana Maria 6-2, 6-4 in the first semifinal to advance to her second final of the season, having won s'Hertogenbosch in June. The 27-year-old fired 29 winners and held Maria to just two winners in the match.
The 27-year-old bolted out of the gates to quickly build a 4-0 lead in the opening set and took full control from there. Behind her big baseline hitting and canny coverage at the net, Alexandrova needed just 69 minutes to advance to her fifth career final.
Alexandrova and Ostapenko have split their four meetings on the WTA Tour. Alexandrova won their last meeting, which came in Madrid this year, prevailing 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.