Ashleigh Barty returns to Sydney finals, Kvitova awaits

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Home favorite Ashleigh Barty surged into her second straight Sydney International final rallying from a set down to beat seventh seed Kiki Bertens 6-7(4) 6-4 7-5. Later in the rainy day, fifth seed Petra Kvitova joined the 22-year-old from Ipswich in the closing stage of the tournament, blasting past Belarusian qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-1 6-2.

After erasing two Grand Slam champions from the draw (Jelena Ostapenko in the first round and No.1 Simona Halep in the second round), the world No.15 Barty got past tenth seed Elise Mertens in the quarterfinals and has now moved into the final, never dropping serve after losing the first set in a tiebreak against Bertens.

Barty withstood 15 aces from her Dutch opponent, whose first serve percentage was at modest 59% even though she hit so many aces. Also, Barty won more points on her first serve. Still, the deciding factor was the number of break point conversions, as Barty converted 3 out of 4, compared to Bertens’ 1 out of 5.

After ousting defending champion Angelique Kerber on Thursday, Kvitova avenged her first-round Wimbledon loss to Aliaksandra Sasnovich in another rain-delayed late-night match. This one lasted just over an hour.

Kvitova, the 2015 Sydney champion, has a 2-0 head-to-head record against Barty, but they’ve never played on a hardcourt so far.

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