Ash Barty storms into Malaysian Open final
Ashleigh Barty's astonishing comeback has hit new heights as she stormed into the final of the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur.
Barty, who had to endure qualifying just to make the main draw eased past Chinese player Xinyun Han 6-3 7-5 to make her first singles final on tour.
The 20-year-old Australian, who came back to tennis in the Australian summer after taking a hiatus to play cricket, broke Han to go up 5-3 in the first set before closing it out on her own serve with an ace.
Barty then broke early in the second set before Han got back to level at 4-4.
The Australian would eventually break again to go ahead 6-5 in the second set before serving out the match on her third match point.
"My service game and forehand worked well," Barty said.
Barty will play Japan's Nao Hibino in the final after the world No.106 advanced with a 2-6 6-4 6-4 win over Poland's Magda Linette in just under two and a half hours.
"I know how Barty plays because we played together as juniors," said Hibino, who is chasing her second career title, after Tashkent in 2015.
In their only previous encounter Barty beat Hibino 7-5 6-4 during qualifying for the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, in 2013.
Should Barty win the tournament for her first singles title she could jump into the top 100 and be looking at direct entry into the French Open at Roland Garros in May.