(Reuters) – World number one Ash Barty beat eighth seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-3 3-6 7-6(7) in Beijing to seal her spot in the final of the China Open on Saturday.
Both players saved a match point in a thrilling third set tiebreak before Barty, the Australian top seed, wrapped up the encounter in two hours 20 minutes.
It was Barty’s 19th win in a three-setter this year and her third in a row after beating Zheng Saisai in the last 16 and seventh seed Petra Kvitova in the quarter-finals, with both matches lasting more than two hours.
“I enjoy those moments. I enjoy when it’s tight, when your back’s against the wall,” Barty said after her fifth career win over Bertens. “That really brings out the fun for me.
“It’s just been really nice to be able to play (these) two matches the last two days, incredible level. Regardless if I was on a plane home today, I probably wouldn’t have stressed any more or less about it.”
In a see-saw match, both players dropped serve three times with little to separate the two until the tiebreak in the decider.
Bertens first saved a match point with a long rally to tie the score at 6-6 in the tiebreak before Barty fought back to 7-7. She then forced the Dutchwoman into an error and won the match on her next match point to advance.
“I think it was a great match, great fight from both sides,” Bertens said. “It could go either way. It was not me today. I played the right way, I was coming forward, I played aggressive where I could.”
Barty will now play either Naomi Osaka or defending champion Caroline Wozniacki, who were meeting in the second semi-final later on Saturday.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon)