Cepelova, Petkovic book Charleston final
Jana Cepelova of Slovakia returns a shot on August 12, 2013 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Cincinnati, Ohio - by Ronald Martinez
Cepelova, a 20-year-old Slovakian ranked 78th in the world, overcame the spirited challenge of 17-year-old Swiss qualifier Belinda Bencic 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (9/7).
Petkovic, a former top-10 player trying to make her way back up the rankings after a string of injuries, put the brakes on sixth-seeded Canadian Eugenie Bouchard 1-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Cepelova led 5-4 and then 6-5 in the third set, with a match point at 5-4, but couldn't convert against Bencic, who had won just three WTA main draw matches prior to this green claycourt premier level WTA tournament.
Petkovic's experience will make the 14th-seeded German the favorite in Sunday's final.
Now ranked 40th in the world, Petkovic, withstood the big baseline game of the rising Canadian star, who impressed with her run to the Australian Open semi-finals in January.
In fact, Bouchard controlled much of the match, needing just 29 minutes to lock up the first set.
She had three break chances in the sixth game of the second before Petkovic won the set to force the decisive third.
After a tight tussle, Petkovic finished it off in emphatic style, breaking Bouchard to love to seal the match.
It was an emotional win for the German, who has battled a succession of injuries and almost fell out of the top 200 a year ago.
"I was just so relieved and I was proud that I came back from all these injuries, and I never thought that I would play finals in the big tournaments again, and so I was just proud and happy and everything together," Petkovic said.
"The match was really tough. Genie played so well today -- she was so aggressive, and I have to admit I was a little lucky in the second set when I managed to turn the match around."