World number one Ashleigh Barty reached her sixth final of the season with a 6-2, 7-5 victory over Angelique Kerber in the ATP and WTA Cincinnati Masters on Saturday.
The top-seeded Aussie, who has led the rankings for the past 82 weeks, needed an hour and a quarter to move into Sunday’s title match, surpassing her semi-final showing from 2019.
Barty will play for the trophy against Swiss wild card Jil Teichmann – who beat Czech fifth seed Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 6-4 to reach a fourth career final but her first at the elite Masters 1000 level.
She needed 84 minutes to continue an outstanding week in which she beat Naomi Osaka in the third round and Olympic gold medallist compatriot Belinda Bencic in the quarters.
The 24-year-old ranked 76th in the world owns 250-level trophies on clay from Palermo and Prague two years ago. After oust ing fourth-ranked Pliskova, Teichmann stands 4-0 this season against top 10 players.
“Playing center court against world number one in a final...it’s perfect,” the 24-year-old said as she looked toward the biggest final of her career.
Against Kerber, Barty increased her lead in the series between multiple Grand Slam winners to 4-2 as she duplicated a Wimbledon semi-final victory from last month.
Barty produced a dozen aces and broke Kerber five times. Her 39 match wins this year nudged her one ahead of Aryna Sabalenka on the WTA list.
The top seed had to call upon some strategy to see her through to the win. The pair twice traded breaks in the second set, with Barty finally getting the deciding fifth break in the final game.
“It’s been a nice week of building momentum,” said Barty, who fired 29 winners to Kerber’s 16. “To be in another match playing for a title is really exciting, really cool.
“I’m playing well at the moment, executing game plans well. I feel I’m moving well, and I’ve got control of the ball. That’s all I can ask of myself.”
Kerber said that, finally, she was out-played.
“She started playing really aggressive, and I was just trying to find my rhythm,” the German said. “I tried to come back in the second set. “I had my chances, but she played really well in important moments and closed the match her way.”
With AFP Inputs