This probably wasn't what Zoran Petkovic had in mind when he left a communist government in the former Yugoslavia to join the University of South Carolina tennis team. But Andrea Petkovic, daughter of the Gamecocks' top singles player in 1982, will play in the Family Circle Cup final Sunday after rallying Saturday for a 1-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory over No. 6 seed Eugenie Bouchard.
"It's funny how destiny plays," said Petkovic, a 26-year-old who was raised in Germany. "But reaching a final of a big tournament here in South Carolina where my father went to college is an honor, and it's nice. It's a blessing."
Petkovic, ranked No. 40 and the No. 14 seed, will face unseeded Jana Cepelova for the Family Circle Cup title Sunday. Cepelova, 20, defeated Belinda Bencic, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6.
Bencic, 17, made the main draw as a qualifier.
Zoran Petkovic isn't on hand for the Family Circle Cup, but at least his daughter has a coach. Cepelova, a Slovakian ranked No. 78 and not expecting such a glorious Charleston run, is traveling alone. She has no clothing contracts.
She planned to order room service Saturday.
"I am a little bit happy," Cepelova said, "but then I am sad because I cannot talk to anybody. But I try to keep up with my family and friends at home and I am calling them. But I try to focus. I would like to fight."
It's the first WTA meeting for the finalists, both enjoying career-boosting weeks.
Cepelova served notice Tuesday night with a stunning upset of No. 1-ranked Serena Williams, the two-time defending Family Circle Cup champion. She beat No. 13 Elena Vesnina in the round of 16 and No. 12 Daniela Hantuchova, a teammate on Slovakia's Fed Cup team, in the quarterfinals.
Benic, from Switzerland, is ranked No. 140. But she won four main draw matches in Charleston. Bencic got by No. 3 Sara Errani in the quarterfinals, winning 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.
Bencic had the crowd behind her Saturday.
"It really hurts right now but I'm sure I'll learn from this," Bencic said.
Petkovic, down 4-2 in the third set, continually leaned on fierce forehand winners; she hit only two backhand winners all day.
There were tears of joy after the match. Petkovic was ranked as high as No. 10 in 2011. She is finally healthy after back, ankle and knee injuries over the last five years.
"I cry when I'm happy, strangely," she said. "I was just so relieved and I was proud that I came back from all these injuries."
Bouchard, 20, had her best tournament since breaking through in January with a march to the semifinals of the Australian Open. She beat No. 11 seed Venus Williams on Thursday and No. 2 seed Jelena Jankovic on Friday.
"I think I showed myself that even if I'm not playing well at certain moments - which I wasn't playing well in a lot of the matches - I can still fight and still save the match, and in my matches (against Williams and Jankovic) still pull out the win," Bouchard said.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff
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