Cincinnati, August 21: Petra Kvitova fended off home favourite Madison Keys to reach the Western and Southern Open final and secure a return to the world's top 20.
The two-time Wimbledon champion battled to a 6-7 (6-8) 6-4 6-3 victory in two hours and 18 minutes, saying the match had been "mentally so tough".
Both players had taken significant scalps to reach this stage, with Keys knocking out world number one Iga Swiatek and Kvitova ousting Wimbledon runner-up Ons Jabeur.
Kvitova reached semi-finals at Cincinnati in 2012 and 2018 and lost three-set battles on both occasions, but this time she came good in the decider to earn a first final appearance at the event and a 40th overall in her WTA career.
The 32-year-old Czech slipped an early break adrift in the opening set before fighting back to force a tie-break. She came from behind in that, too, to level up at 6-6, only for hard-hitting American Keys to win the next two points, the first with a sizzling backhand winner.
Kvitova sensed she was still firmly in the match, however, and surges to 3-1 in each of the next two sets provided the platform to fully turn around the contest.
A 12th WTA 1000-level final awaits her, and she will go to 20th in the rankings should she lose Sunday's final and up to 15th if she carries off the title.
Kvitova said of her win: "It was incredibly tough. I expected it would be tough, but I didn't expect it that tough. Madison played unbelievable.
"She played an amazing tie-break, but I tried to keep going, be there and be a little calmer than before and wait for the chances. It was an incredible match, and I'm really happy that I made it somehow.
"I don't really care about the ranking. Being in the final, that's more important, and that's why I'm playing tennis: to be in finals and fighting for a trophy."
She awaited the winner of the second semi-final between Aryna Sabalenka and Caroline Garcia.