2021 Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev and World No. 8 Paula Badosa have both secured spots in their respective finals at the Sydney Tennis Classic.
Karatsev faced a stern test from the red-hot World No. 26 Daniel Evans, but it was the top-seeded Russian who looked the more in-form player from the outset.
The racquet of the Russian did the talking in the first set with Evans quickly falling behind and struggling to make any inroads on the serve of Karatsev.
The Brit managed a break deep in the first thanks in part to some outrageous court coverage, but resistance was ultimately futile against the Russian automaton.
The second set was an absolute battle – for Evans. Karatsev was completely dominant on serve and the pressure on the No.3 seed to hold was immense.
The quality ball-striking of the Russian often had his opponent and the crowd in disbelief, but Evans refused to surrender and a tiebreak beckoned.
It was here that Evans found another gear and even then, it was only just enough to steal the second from Karatsev in what became a 28-point tiebreak and 84-minute slugfest.
The only thing missing from the match at this point was controversy and as it turns out, it wasn’t far away.
The Russian opted to change clothes off-court in what became a lengthy stoppage in between the second and third set.
Evans’ frustration was bubbling away by the time Karatsev returned and the quick 3-0 advantage that the Russian established certainly did nothing to quell it.
To the credit of the Brit, Evans fought his way back to tie the final set at 3-3 but the damage was likely already done and Karatsev pulled away once more for a 6-3, 6-7(13), 6-3 victory in just over three hours.
Earlier on Ken Rosewall Arena, No. 5 seed Paula Badosa was in ominous form as she overwhelmed World No. 26 Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 6-2 in an hour and 14 minutes.
The mismatch in power between Badosa and Kasatkina was glaring from the get-go and the Spaniard jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Russian knew what hit her.
Badosa was dominant on both serve and return and her command from the back of the court posed a question that Kasatkina could not answer.
The Russian did have her moments though and she was rewarded with a couple of breaks thanks to some crafty all-court play.
Kasatkina wasn’t outclassed, rather she was overpowered. Counterpunching can only get you so far when your opponent is consistently hitting their spots.
Badosa, who closed last season with a title at Indian Wells and a semi-final appearance at the WTA Finals, is certainly one to keep an eye on at next week’s Australian Open.
Sydney Tennis Classic
Order of play, 15/01
Women’s Doubles Final
Vivian Heisen (GER) & Panna Udvardy (HUN) vs Anna Danilina (KAZ) & Beatriz Haddad Maia (BRA)
 Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) vs  Paula Badosa (ESP)
 Aslan Karatsev (RUS) vs [WC] Andy Murray (GBR)