World No. 1 Ash Barty, on her 25th birthday, produced yet another mesmerising comeback, this time over Elina Svitolina 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2.
Svitolina served for the match in the second set, but Barty broke to stay alive. From that point onwards, the Aussie ran away with the match.
“I love to play tennis. I love to compete, and to do it on my birthday is even more special,” Barty said.
Barty was forceful and athletic to claim victory.
Despite still adjusting to the service, Barty looks quite comfortable - “I’ve never played on indoor clay…it is a bit different, it’s pretty quick here and you get kind of rewarded for kind of serving first-strike, which is a little bit unusual on certain clay courts.”
Barty will face Aryna Sabalenka in the final after she empathetically defeated Simona Halep 6-3, 6-2.
“Yeah, definitely was a good match for myself,” Sabalenka said.
“I wasn’t surprised. I was preparing myself for this kind of game.”
Their head-to-head sits at three wins apiece.
The match will likely be riffed with exceptional power and control from both players.
In Istanbul, Elise Mertens and Sorana Cirstea will face off in the TEB BNP Paribas Tennis Championship Istanbul final. The match will be Merten’s tenth career final.
On the ATP Tour, just when you thought Aslan Karatsev’s rise to the top couldn’t get any more unbelievable – it just did.
The Russian beat World No. 1 Novak Djokovic at the Serb’s home tournament, the Serbia Open, in Belgrade, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 in three hours and 25 minutes, avenging his loss at the Australian Open.
“Hats off to Karatsev, he was bold and deserved to win,” Djokovic said after the match.
In the longest ATP match of the year, Karatsev saved 23 break points to propel himself to secure one of the biggest wins of his career.
“It was a long, tough match [against a] tough opponent,” Karatsev said in his post-match press conference.
“You have to put [in] like 200 per cent to beat this guy, it’s like playing against a wall.”
In the second semi-final, second seed Matteo Berrettini bounced back from a mid-match dip to claim a 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-0 victory over Taro Daniel.
“I think he played a really good game when I served for the match in the second set. And then… tennis, it’s a crazy sport! That’s why we’re here,” Berrettini stated.
The Italian now boasts an 11-3 win-loss record in 2021.
This will be the first time Berrettini and Karatsev have come up against each other.
In Barcelona, Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas will face off for the title.
Nadal claimed a textbook victory over fellow countrymen Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-2.
“I am very happy to be back in a final here at an historic event, a home event [and] an important one for me,” said Nadal.
Nadal is chasing his 12th title in Barcelona, owning a 23-1 record in semi-final and final matches at the tournament.
“Tomorrow will be a very tough one. [Stefanos] is playing probably better than ever,” said Nadal.
The Greek star notched a 6-3, 6-3 win over Italian rising star Jannik Sinner.
“It was very close. It was a close match,” said Tsitsipas.
“He had a lot of break point opportunities on my serve. It could have been different.”
Tsitsipas is tied for the most wins on the ATP tour this year with 26.
The final will be a repeat of the 2018 final, in which Nadal dominated 6-2, 6-1 to claim victory.
At the W25 ITF World Tennis Tour tournament in Oeiras, Portugal, Aussie Seone Mendez lost narrowly in the semi-finals of the tournament.
At the W15 ITF World Tennis Tour tournament in Antalya, Turkey, Aussie Olivia Gadecki and partner Sada Nahimana notched a 6-3, 1-6, 11-9 over So-Rae Lee and Misaki Matusda to claim the doubles title.
Listen to The First Serve, Mondays 8pm AEST 1116AM SEN Melbourne, 1170AM SEN Sydney & 1629AM SEN SA or listen live and catch up on the SEN App, thanks to 1st Serve Tennis Sunscreen at www.sunblessedsunscreens.com.au. You can order now using the discount code SEN.