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Homan to face Tirinzoni for WFG Masters women’s championship

SASKATOON — Ottawa’s Team Rachel Homan will take on Team Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland in Sunday’s WFG Masters women’s final at Merlis Belsher Place.

Team Homan upended Winnipeg’s Team Jennifer Jones 8-4 and Team Tirinzoni topped Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., 6-3 during Saturday night’s semifinals to secure their spots for the championship game.

Homan has won a record 13 Grand Slam women’s titles including three in the WFG Masters. She will make her seventh appearance in the event’s final since the Masters expanded in 2012 to include a women’s division.

“It’s very exciting,” said Tracy Fleury, who throws third for Team Homan. “We love playing in finals. It’s a great atmosphere, it’s going to be a tough opponent tomorrow and we’re really looking forward to it.”

The three-time Grand Slam champion Tirinzoni won the second of her career right here at Merlis Belsher Place during the 2019 Champions Cup.

“It’s nice, it always feels a little bit like home,” said Alina Pätz, who throws the last rocks for Tirinzoni. “Last time we were here we had a great week, same this week, so it’s just so nice to be back.”

Homan didn’t start with the hammer but forced Jones to a single in the first and then went to work scoring a deuce in the second and stealing one in the third to establish a 3-1 lead.

Jones tied it up with a deuce in the fourth, however, it was all Homan from there as her team responded with a great shot to score four in the fifth. After Jones was limited to one in the sixth, Homan matched with an insurance marker in the seventh to ice the game.

“Their team was making a lot of shots and it was a close game for sure,” Fleury said. “Then we had a break, got a big four-ender and then just kind of held control after that.”

Coincidentally, Tirinzoni defeated Einarson in the 2019 Champions Cup women’s final and never trailed this time. Team Tirinzoni blanked the first three ends and patience paid off as they were able to score a deuce in the fourth. The teams exchanged single points in the fifth and sixth, and Einarson added an equalizing two in the seventh to make it 3-all.

Still, that gave Tirinzoni the hammer coming home and Pätz potted three points for good measure.

Pätz put it bluntly that the only key to the game was to play well.

“I mean, they’re a top-ranked team, so we knew we’ve got to play well,” she said. “It helped obviously that we had the hammer to start the game. In a close game like that, it always helps. It came down to the last rock with the hammer.”

No surprise, Pätz believes it’ll take more of the same in the championship game against Homan.

“Rachel is full of confidence right now, so we’ve got to make her do some tough shots,” Pätz said. “Just play our game, try to play our best and everything else will help.”

Fleury, whose team won 7-3 over Tirinzoni during their earlier encounter in round-robin play Wednesday, is anticipating a tight matchup.

“They’re a tough opponent and they like the big games for sure,” Fleury said. “I think it’ll be a close one tomorrow and we’ll try to come out strong.”

It’s the second straight Grand Slam championship game for Homan, who lost 7-6 to South Korea’s Team Eun-Ji Gim in the KIOTI National women’s final last month.

Scotland’s Team Ross Whyte will play in their first-ever Grand Slam men’s final against Italy’s Team Joël Retornaz, who are looking for their fourth title in the series and third in a row.

Whyte defeated Team Yannick Schwaller of Switzerland 9-4 and Retornaz edged Calgary’s Team Brendan Bottcher 7-6 in an extra end during the semifinals.

Watch Championship Sunday on Sportsnet and Sportsnet+ (Canada) or (international) beginning with the women’s final at 11:30 a.m. ET / 10:30 a.m. local time followed by the men’s final at 4 p.m. ET / 3 p.m. local time.