Dominika Cibulkova has given herself an excellent chance of qualifying for the season-ending WTA Finals after advancing to the final of the Generali Ladies Linz on Saturday.
The Slovakian survived a see-saw semi-final battle with fourth seed Carla Suarez Navarro to emerge a 6-4, 6-3 winner.
The first set featured no less than nine successive breaks of serve, with neither player able to carve out any real advantage.
Cibulkova was the first to break in the second game to lead 2-0, but that led to an avalanche of further breaks, with Suarez Navarro hitting back with a break of her own on no less than four occasions.
Cibulkova kept breaking too, however, and she would essentially claim the first by five breaks to four.
Suarez Navarro kept fighting in the second set and broke first for a 2-1 lead, but Cibulkova responded strongly with successive breaks to get her nose in front and hold on for victory.
Tops Suarez Navarro 6-4, 6-3! pic.twitter.com/Of9MsXnDYP
— WTA (@WTA) October 15, 2016
Standing between her and the title – and guaranteed qualification for the WTA Finals – is unseeded Swiss player Viktorija Golubic, who has enjoyed a fair share of good fortune at this tournament.
The 23-year-old reached the semis after her quarter-final opponent, Garbine Muguruza, was forced to retire in the third set with a twisted ankle, and she received a walkover on Saturday as Madison Keys withdrew from the semifinal due to respiratory illness.
"It's a good feeling to know that I have a chance at the Finals," Cibulkova said. "That's why I came here. I knew that I needed to reach the final or win the tournament to have something from it, and I just handled that so good."
— WTA Linz (@WTALinz) October 15, 2016
Golubic will certainly be the fresher of the two players in the final, but that doesn't mean she starts as the favourite.
"Maybe physically it's an advantage for her, but this match against Carla gave me special confidence," Cibulkova said. "I just want finish here with a good feeling and go for it, and just keep playing like today."