Karolina Pliskova reached her fourth WTA Tour final of 2015 and saved three set points before winning the tiebreak to claim victory.
The 23-year-old warmed up for Devonshire Park to despatch France’s Kristina Mladenovic in straight sets 6-2 7-6(6) to ace into the Aegon Classic final in 86 minutes.
The Czech ace brilliantly overcame three rain delays and the impressive Mladenovic, who has now opted to skip competing in the Aegon International following her remarkable run at Birmingham, and held her nerve in a tight tiebreak.
Pliskova explained: “She played so much better in the second set than the first that I realised a third set would have been very tough.
“So getting to the end of the match was key, I was trying to centre on every point and my last return to win the match was a bit lucky.”
The match, from start to finish including breaks for rain, lasted 140 minutes with the 26-year-old dominating.
Pliskova, currently one of four Czech stars inside the world’s 30, broke her opponent’s serve in the opening game and a second break in the fifth game was enough to carve out the lead. Serving to close the set was a formality as she reeled off four points to take the set after 31 minutes.
Just one drop of serve each early on forced a tiebreak, which looked to be going in Mladenovic’s favour with three set points at 6-3. But the ever resilient Czech won five points on the bounce, her return that sealed success fortunate to wrong-foot her opponent.
Pliskova faces Angelique Kerber in the final, ahead of both taking a shot at capturing the Eastbourne crown and impressing at Wimbledon. A victory for Pliskova will propel her into the top 10 for the first time, Kerber and Pliskova have each won twice against each other.
Kerber eased past fellow German Sabine Lisicki in just 63 minutes for a sixth successive time 6-3 6-3 and is on course to claim a third title this year to add to the Charleston and Stuttgart crowns.
Lisicki, the 2011 Aegon Classic winner, set a new ace record of 27 in a WTA Tour match earlier in the week but was waning on court.
She had a slender 1-0 before the first rain delay, Kerber in fine form to reel off four of the next five games to take firm control.
Kerber’s 26 winners helped her maintain her unbeaten record against Lisicki, who lost the match by pushing a thunderous forehand into the net.