Dayana Yastremska would be one of the most popular winners of a WTA title in a long time if she can complete the job on Sunday. The Ukranian will play Zhang Shuai for the trophy in Lyon, an opponent she is currently 1-1 against in her career. Yastremska won in Hong Kong while Zhang picked up her win on the Wimbledon grass in 2019.
Yastremska would be forgiven for having her mind anywhere but the tennis court, especially with family members still stuck in Ukraine as the war rages on there. However, she has found some form for the first time in a while to make the final. The big hitter began her tournament in Lyon with a lengthy three set win against Ana Bogdan and repeated that against another Romanian to make the final. “It was a really tough match,” she said after the 7-6 4-6 6-4 win against Sorana Cirstea. “In the third set, when I had match points and I lost that game, I was a bit crazy. I thought, I’m done, I’ve lost, because I don’t have any more power. And then everybody was supporting me, supporting me, and I felt like, you can do it.
Zhang has had a far more straight forward route to the final, not dropping a set on the way there. The pick of her wins would have to be her semi final against Caroline Garcia, where she was broken just once in the 6-2 7-5 win. The Chinese veteran is a player with quite a streaky record but more than capable of picking up wins against better players.
Yastremska may be emotionally exhausted by now, given how this week has gone for her. The Ukrainian has managed to direct that energy into some of her best tennis in a long time though and very few would begrudge her a first title in nearly three years. How well Zhang can take advantage when the errors begin to flow from Yastremska will determine how this one plays out.
Prediction – Dayana Yastremska in three sets