STRASBOURG, France – Mirjana Lucic-Baroni crushed fourth-seeded Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-1, 6-1 to reach the final of the Strasbourg International on Friday, 19 years after losing to Steffi Graf in the championship decider.
The 34-year-old Croatian needed one hour to beat Mladenovic, a wild card playing in her first semifinal this season, saving all four break points she faced and breaking the Frenchwoman's serve five times.
"Nineteen years in between the finals. It's amazing," Lucic-Baroni said. "It's like coming home now for me in Strasbourg."
Lucic-Baroni will face Caroline Garcia, who beat lucky loser Virginie Razzano 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-5 in an all-French match.
Garcia had five aces, dropped serve five times, but broke Razzano seven times in a topsy-turvy match lasting nearly three hours.
"It's important for my confidence so get wins like this, especially ahead of Roland Garros," Garcia said. "It was a fighting performance. Losing that first set was tough but I came back."
Lucic-Baroni's third and last title came two years ago at Quebec City, while Garcia has one career title.
However, Garcia leads 3-0 in their head-to-head meetings, two on hard courts and one on clay.
"Against Garcia, I've always posted negative results," Lucic-Baroni said. "But hopefully that will change tomorrow. I'm playing some great tennis and haven't been on court very long, despite coming through (qualifiers)."