(Reuters) – Ashleigh Barty moved to within one victory of the world number one ranking, beating Czech Barbora Strycova 6-4 6-4 on Saturday to reach the final of the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham.
The 23-year-old Australian, fresh from her maiden Grand Slam triumph at the French Open, sent down 11 aces and fired 24 winners to dispatch world number 51 Strycova in 84 minutes and stay in the hunt for her third title of the season.
“I felt I had really good rhythm on my serve today,” Barty, who is aiming to displace Japan’s Naomi Osaka at the top of the rankings, said.
“It was important for me today to try and almost make it a boring match and make it a little bit kind of serve and first shot and dominate on my part.”
Barty, who could become the first Australian woman to top the rankings in more than 40 years, faces her doubles partner Julia Goerges in the title clash on Sunday.
World number 19 Goerges, who is seeking her second title of the season, dominated Petra Martic in the other semi-final to win 6-4 6-3.
Barty and Goerges have a 1-1 head-to-head record but the Australian won their previous clash en route to claiming the Zhuhai crown last year.
“I have to prepare and do the best that I can tomorrow and try and play a good tennis match,” Barty added.
“If I win, it’s a bonus. There are all things that come with it, but those things are not what I’m worried about.”
(Reporting by Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)