Kerber to face Barty in Sydney WTA final

Camila Giorgi of Italy hits a return to Agnieszka Radwanska from Poland during their Sydney International encounter

The other semi-final in Sydney will be an all-Australian affair between Ashleigh Barty and Daria Gavrilova, the former Australian compatriot whose record now stands at 12-1 against fellow Aussies since she took residency Down Under in 2013.

It is an impressive start to the new year for Kerber, having won her four matches at last week's mixed teams Hopman Cup in Perth before her three victories in Sydney.

Kerber will play Camila Giorgi in the semifinals.

"It's nice getting a bit of confidence going into our biggest tournament for us", Barty said of next week's Australian Open.

Barty held just once in the first set but reversed the momentum in the second when she broke in the ninth game after Gavrilova double faulted twice, which prompted the 23-year-old to smash her racquet in frustration and earn a code violation. She becomes the first Australian to reach the final since 2005, when countrywomen Alicia Molik and Samantha Stosur contested the showpiece.

Standing between the Belgian and the retention of the title is Mihaela Buzarnescu, the Romanian reaching the final with a 6-2 6-2 defeat of Lesia Tsurenko. She is guaranteed to break into the top 50 rankings for the first time on Monday. The loss was "frustrating", Watson said.

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The Italian looked incredibly focused as she drilled 33 winners to 29 unforced errors and more self-assured in controlling her second deliveries.

"That has always been (the case) when I have been the No.1-ranked player".

Former champions Juan Martin del Potro and Roberto Bautista Agut will meet Saturday in the final of the ATP Tour's ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand.

Defending champion Gilles Muller was knocked out of the Sydney International men's event by unseeded Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-4, 6-4.

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.

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