Elena Rybakina stormed from 4-1 down from a second which looked all but lost to blunt the game of Jelena Ostapenko and book into Saturday’s Rome Masters final
The WTA showdown between a pair of current and former Grand Slam winners took just over 90 minutes, with reigning Wimbledon champion Rybakina edging onto a title match with Anhelina Kalinina.
The proud Ukrainian beat Russian Veronkia Kudermetova 7-5, 5-7, 6-2 in two and three-quarter hours of battle.
The winner then handed a world class snub to her beaten opponent, whose country is currently invading Ukraine.
“We didn’t shake hands because the girl is from Russia basically. It’s no secret why I didn’t shake, because this country actually attacked Ukraine,” she said.
“This is sport, but it’s also kind of a politician thing. It’s nothing personal. But in general, yes, it’s not acceptable.
“It’s absolutely important to try and win every match, (considering) what Ukraine is going through,” Kalinina said.
“I hope I can give a small light and maybe some positive emotions to my country.”
Rybankina reached her fourth major final of the season after the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami aided by 33 unforced errors from 2017 Roland Garros winner Ostapenko
She won on a first match point and a volley error from the Latvian and now faces a Saturday night final after her 6-2, 6-4 victory.
“Everyone knows how good Anelina is, we are also good friends – if you can say that (in tennis),” Moscow-born Kazakh Rybakina said.
“It will be a tough match for sure. I think of course I’m more consistent, there are still a lot of things to improve.
“But I’m happy that physically I can maintain and stay in the tournament till the end.
“I needed to be focused and fight for every ball because you never
know: either you get the winner or it’s going to be some mistake.
“I just tried to focus on every point and got the break back and served really well after that.”
Kalinina will be the lowest ranked finalist at the tournament since 1986 and will rise to her equal career-high ranking of 28th.
Kalinina will be playing her second WTA final after Budapest.