Wickmayer continues rise through ranks, reaches DFS final

Updated: June 14, 2008, 1:09 PM ET
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."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press