Barty books all-Aussie semifinal against Gavrilova, clears Strycova in Sydney


Barty completed a confident 6-3 6-2 victory over Czech Barbora Strycova, her 201st overall, the fourth in five meetings against Czech player since the beginning of 2017 as she lost to to Kvitova (Birmingham) and beat Vondrousova and Strycova (both at Birmingham) and Karolina Pliskova (Wuhan) "I think it's fantastic for Sydney and for Australian tennis - we're gonna have an Aussie in the final, which is awesome", Barty said after her win at the Ken Rosewall Arena that made her clinch the fifth WTA semifinal.

In a match that included 11 breaks of serve, Barty needed just one in the third set.

World No.1 Simona Halep could await in the round of 16, however Barty said she had learned from the home expectations usually placed for former US Open champion Samantha Stosur. The 167th-ranked de Minaur, who will play his first ATP Tour final on Saturday, advanced to the Brisbane International semifinals last week.

Italian fourth seed Fabio Fognini set up a semi-final against qualifier Daniil Medvedev following a 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (7-4), 6-2 marathon against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

Elise Mertens will defend her Hobart International title in the Hobart, Australia, final after eliminating 2015 champion Heather Watson 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 on Friday.

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She also beat the new Australian No.1 at 2017 Strasbourg quarterfinal before losing to Stosur in the final. The loss was "frustrating", Watson said.

"I shot myself in the foot with my serving in the first and didn't give myself an opportunity to be dominant on service games", Barty said. I'm trying to do my best on court and win as many matches before going to Melbourne.

Meanwhile, Juan Martin del Potro kept his Australian Open preparations on track with a 7-6 (4), 6-3 win over Russia's Karen Khachanov in the Auckland Classic on Thursday, setting up a semifinal meeting with David Ferrer.

The top-ranked Aussie was in command from the start and played a near-shutout second set to take the 6-3, 6-2 victory in just over an hour.

Del Potro's form in Auckland this week has been outstanding and he has shown no signs of a wrist injury which has dogged his career.