Daria Gavrilova produced her best performance of the week to cruise into the Hong Kong Open final with a 6-0, 7-5 defeat of Jennifer Brady on Saturday. The Russian-born Australian sped through the first set in 22 minutes, dropping just four points on her own serve as her American opponent looked overawed in her first WTA Tour semifinal.
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"I feel like today was my best performance since I've been in Asia," said a delighted Gavrilova, who broke the American's serve seven times on the way to a dominant win. Brady, the world number 70, looked like being blown away on a blustery autumnal day in Victoria Park after winning just 11 points in the first set. But she managed to regroup and hold her serve at the fourth time of asking to get on the scoreboard at the start of the second set.
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Gavrilova's stuttering quarter-final win against world 155 Lizette Cabrera on Friday night had been laced with 16 double faults and 20 unforced errors in the second set alone. She had promised to practise her serve after that and her morning's work paid off handsomely as she gave away only two double faults in the match.
"I did hit a lot more second serves today than usual (in practice)," she admitted. "I just made it more clear in my head where I was going to hit the second serve, actually making a smaller target than just hitting it anywhere."
Gavrilova showed her only touch of frailty when failing to serve out for the match at 5-4, but given a second opportunity at 6-5 she gathered herself and closed out emphatically to love. And she finished the contest with the shot of the day, a sliced backhand dropshot winner from back on the baseline. "I'm really excited to be in the final here," she said in her third appearance at the Hong Kong Open. "I've reached the quarters, the semis and now the final."
The Australian world number 22 is now eyeing a second WTA title after winning her maiden tour crown at New Haven in August on the eve of the US Open. "I'll watch a bit of the second semi-final and depending who I'll be playing I'll prepare for them as I always do," Gavrilova said.