Giant-killer Ashleigh Barty through to Sydney International final after beating world No. 9

 foxsports.com.au  1/11/2019 6:54:00 AM 

Barty withstood 15 aces from Bertens and rallied from a set down to beat the Dutchwoman 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 7-5 in a quality two-hour, 18-minute encounter on Friday to advance to her second-successive final in Sydney.

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The Australian No.1 will play Czech fifth seed Petra Kvitova or Serbian qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich in Saturday’s final, hoping to complete the perfect lead-up for next week’s Australian Open in Melbourne.

After taking out 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the first round, Barty has toppled world No.1 Simona Halep, the 12th-ranked Elise Mertens and Bertens to send an ominious warning to her Open rivals.

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“It’s amazing — it truly has been a phenomenal week of tennis,” Barty said. “I feel like I’ve played great the whole week. I’ve had tough opponents every single round and I’m really excited to have another shot at the title.”

Ash Barty hits a double-handed backhand to Kiki Bertens.
Ash Barty hits a double-handed backhand to Kiki Bertens.Source: AFP

The world No.15 has shown remarkable mental resolve to back up her career-best win over Halep two days ago.

“Both Elise and Kiki were amazing opponents so that I knew I had to be switched on and play my best tennis to win.

“That’s the best part of this tournament. It’s so strong; every single round could be a final.

“So I have to be ready now and then I get to come out and enjoy tomorrow.”

Barty said it would be a dream to become the first Australian winner in Sydney since Alicia Molik 14 years ago.

Molik, who was courtside for Friday’s win, went on to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals a week later.

“It would be amazing,” the 22-year-old said.

Kiki Bertens hits a forehand on the run at the Sydney International.
Kiki Bertens hits a forehand on the run at the Sydney International.Source: AFP

“Mol — my Fed Cup captain, so I would love to try to be the next Australian. “But I’ll come out here tomorrow to enjoy it.”

Barty battled back from an early service break down, only to blow a 4-1 lead in the first-set tiebreaker on Ken Rosewall Arena.

Aided by three-consecutive unforced errors, including a double fault, Bertens reeled off six-straight points to snatch the opening set.

“I missed my opportunity in the first set. I changed my mind a couple of times in that tiebreak and it cost me,” Barty said.

“I knew all I had to do was hang around and fight as hard as I could and try to change it to my favour.”

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