Birmingham - Magdalena Rybarikova, the grass-court expert whose career was in danger of ending after wrist and knee surgeries, overcame Barbora Strycova 7-6 (7/1), 6-4 on Saturday to reach the final of the Birmingham Classic for a second time.
It was further proof of a remarkable recovery for the Slovak from a ranking of 453 early last year, which has been followed by a Wimbledon semi-final and a chance of regaining a title she won nine years ago.
Strycova, the top 30 Czech who ousted Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza in the second round, had won their last four meetings.
But Strycova had her chances this time as well. She broke serve to lead 5-3 in the first set, and then broke again to lead 4-3 in the second. On each occasion she reached 30-15 on her serve before committing errors, though this was still an impressive display between two players fully comfortable on the surface.
Rybarikova sliced well, approached the net confidently, and often volleyed very well.
"I'll think about the final tomorrow," Rybarikova said. "This is an amazing result for me."
In the other semi-final, defending champion Petra Kvitova defeated Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-3, 6-2.
Results at the WTA tournament in Birmingham on Saturday (x indicates seed):
Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) bt Barbora Strycova (CZE) 7-6 (7/1), 6-4
Petra Kvitova (CZE x4) bt Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROM) 6-3, 6-2