World number one Ash Barty beat eighth seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(7) in Beijing to seal her spot in the final of the China Open on Saturday.
Both players saved a match point in a thrilling third set tiebreak before Barty, the Australian top seed, wrapped up the encounter in two hours 20 minutes.
It was Barty’s 19th win in a three-setter this year and her third in a row after beating Zheng Saisai in the last 16 and seventh seed Petra Kvitova in the quarter-finals, with both matches lasting more than two hours.
“I enjoy those moments. I enjoy when it’s tight, when your back’s against the wall,” Barty said after her fifth career win over Bertens. “That really brings out the fun for me."
“It’s just been really nice to be able to play (these) two matches the last two days, incredible level. Regardless if I was on a plane home today, I probably wouldn’t have stressed any more or less about it.”
In a see-saw match, both players dropped serve three times with little to separate the two until the tiebreak in the decider.
Bertens first saved a match point with a long rally to tie the score at 6-6 in the tiebreak before Barty fought back to 7-7. She then forced the Dutchwoman into an error and won the match on her next match point to advance.
“I think it was a great match, great fight from both sides,” Bertens said. “It could go either way. It was not me today. I played the right way, I was coming forward, I played aggressive where I could.”
Barty will now play either Naomi Osaka or defending champion Caroline Wozniacki, who were meeting in the second semi-final later on Saturday.
Djokovic eases past Goffin to set up Tokyo final with Millman
World number one Novak Djokovic eased past Belgian third seed David Goffin 6-3, 6-4 at the Japan Open in Tokyo on Saturday to book his place in Sunday’s final against John Millman.
Djokovic beat Goffin in one hour and 29 minutes, extending his head-to-head record against the 2017 champion to seven wins, and will now face Australia’s Millman who beat American Reilly Opelka in the other semi-final.
Top seeded Djokovic hit seven aces and won 87 per cent of his first-service points against Goffin in the Serb’s first tournament since withdrawing from the U.S. Open fourth round with a shoulder injury.
“I’m very satisfied with the way I’ve been playing the whole week,” Djokovic said. “It’s been a very positive week on the court, off the week as well. Hopefully I’ll be able to crown it tomorrow with a trophy."
“Obviously he was in good form and played really well against Chung yesterday in the quarters."
“The conditions are playing quick here. The surface doesn’t bounce that much, so you’ve got to be very low and quick on return as well. It definitely was not easy when both of us were serving well.”
Djokovic has dominated opponents in Tokyo and is yet to drop a set in the tournament and the 16-time Grand Slam champion needed only two breaks of serve to win in straight sets and reach his fifth final of the season.
Earlier, Millman took down Opelka 6-3, 7-6(4) to reach his first ever ATP 500 final.
Big-serving Opelka fired 13 aces but could not convert either of his two break points while Millman needed only one break of serve in the opening set before winning the second in the tiebreak.
“That was a pretty good match, it’s always difficult playing against someone like Reilly who has got such a massive serve,” Millman said. “I was really happy to take the few little chances I had and took care of my own service games pretty well."
“I get to play a final of an ATP 500 in such a special place like Tokyo. For me, that’s why you play. That’s why you go through the graft and some of the tougher times, to give yourself an opportunity like this. It’s pretty special.”
Tsitsipas downs Zverev to set up Beijing final with Thiem
Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas dispatched German second seed Alexander Zverev 7-6(6), 6-4 in the semi-finals of the China Open in Beijing to set up a mouth-watering final with Austrian top seed Dominic Thiem.
Tsitsipas, 21, won 70 per cent of his first-service points and broke Zverev four times to leave the German still seeking his first win over a top-10 opponent in 2019.
The 22-year-old Zverev saved five match points in the second set before a backhand return went long to give the Greek victory in one hour 51 minutes.
Tsitsipas had started slowly, though, as Zverev broke him in the first game before taking a 2-0 lead.
However, an argument with the chair umpire over a challenge from Tsitsipas where Zverev’s ace was judged wide seemed to affect his concentration and two double faults allowed the Greek to pull level at 3-3.
Zverev then took out his frustration on his racket by repeatedly smashing it on the ground while Tsitsipas maintained his composure to win the set in the tiebreak.
It was one-way traffic in the second as Tsitsipas’s momentum allowed him to win 12 points in a row to take a 3-1 lead before a late surge from Zverev only delayed the inevitable.
In the other semi-final, top seed Thiem dropped the first set and came back from 3-5 down in the second to beat Russia’s Karen Khachanov 2-6, 7-6(5), 7-5 in two hours 41 minutes.
The Austrian had been broken only once in the entire tournament prior to the semi-final but dropped serve six times in the match.
Khachanov had the chance to serve for the match at 5-3 in the second set before Thiem fought his way back into the contest to win the tiebreak. The second set alone lasted a little more than an hour.
Both players broke each other early in the decider before Thiem broke the Russian again when he was serving to take the match into another tiebreak.
Thiem, 26, became the fifth player to qualify for the season-ending ATP Finals in London — after world number one Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and US Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev.