Australia’s world number one Ash Barty beat eighth seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-3 3-6 7-6(7) in Beijing on Saturday to set up a China Open final with Japan’s Naomi Osaka.
Both Barty and Bertens saved a match point in a thrilling third set tiebreak before 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.”
Fourth seed Osaka beat defending champion Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets in the other semi-final, coming away with a 6-4 6-2 victory in one hour and 24 minutes.
The reigning Australian Open champion smashed 30 winners and saved all seven break points she faced, which included six in the second set.
She also broke Wozniacki three times for her first win over the Danish 29-year-old in three attempts.
Sunday’s final will be the fourth meeting between Barty and Osaka, with the Australian leading 2-1 in head-to-head encounters.