Ashleigh Barty will compete for her second career title – and first on home soil – after defeating compatriot Daria Gavrilova 3-6 6-4 6-2 in an all-Australian semifinal at the Sydney International.
In a topsy-turvy match on Friday that included 11 breaks of serve, Barty needed just one in the third set to set up a final against Angelique Kerber or Camila Giorgi.
“It’s amazing. It’s nice to make a final at home,” Barty said.
“I’d love to go one further and hold the trophy up here, but, you know, I love playing in Australia, I love playing at home. It’s nice to be able to get a lot of matches here and be rewarded with the final.”
The 21-year-old was the bolder hitter in the scratchy contest in warm conditions at Ken Rosewall Arena, shrugging off 42 unforced errors and nine double faults to triumph in a touch under two hours.
“I certainly shot myself in the foot with my serve today,” she laughed on court. “But happy to get through in the end and get another opportunity tomorrow. It’s been a pleasure playing here this week.”
Nerves allowed both players to draw a break early in the match, however Barty in particular had trouble on serve, holding just once on her way to losing the first set.
The Ipswich product responded by reeling off the first three games of the second, but each time Gavrilova fought back, Barty continued to make inroads into her serve.
Gavrilova’s frustration spilled over in the ninth game of the set when, soon after levelling at 4-4, she double-faulted twice and smashed her racquet.
Momentum was well and truly with Barty when she forced a deciding set and broke early in the third. While Gavrilova attempted to stay with Barty, she was broken to love in the seventh game.
“I don’t think it was as much slow (my start to the match) as just the rhythm wasn’t quite there. I didn’t give myself an opportunity to be dominant on service games,” Barty assessed.
“Against Dash, she’s a world-class returner and puts pressure on you right from the get-go. For me, it was nice to find the rhythm eventually but would definitely like to see it a little bit earlier in matches.”
Former world No.1 Kerber and Giorgi, a qualifier, meet later on Friday.