Italian youngster Elisabetta Cocciaretto is on the verge of a maiden WTA title after knocking out former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin at the Hobart International.
World No.67 Cocciaretto, who has beaten two seeded players at the tournament including Alize Cornet in the first round, progressed to the final with a 7-5 4-6 6-1 win on Friday.
The 21-year-old finished with a flurry after being broken in the final game of the second set.
“It’s unbelievable to be in the final. It was unexpected again. She is a very good player,” Cocciaretto said.
“She was very aggressive in the second set. At 4-all she played unbelievable. I was a little bit nervous. I’m improving and doing better. My serve, it worked a lot.”
Cocciaretto followed up her win over third seed Cornet by beating higher-ranked countrywoman Jasmine Paolini in the second round and sixth seed Bernarda Pera in the quarter-finals.
She’ll meet one of two qualifiers in the final, either Russia’s Anna Blinkova or American Lauren Davis.
Kenin said she will take plenty of positives from her semi-final Hobart run into next week’s Australian Open where she meets two-time champion Victoria Azarenka in the first round.
The 24-year-old, who reached a career-high world No.4 not long after her 2020 Open triumph, began this year ranked 280 following battles with form and injury.
“I feel like I, overall, played well. It was a good tournament for me. I enjoyed coming back again,” Kenin, the 2019 Hobart winner, said.
“My energy went down a bit (in the third set). A bit exhausted and everything.
“She played well. I could have done things better in a few moments but it just didn’t go my way.”