Barty birthday party as Aussie wins through to final, Karatsev stuns Djokovic

Top-ranked Ash Barty celebrated her birthday on Saturday by coming back from a set down to beat fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 and book her place in the Porsche Grand Prix final.

The new 25-year-old Barty clicked from the second set, when Svitolina was unable to serve out the match at 5-4. Barty was down 4-2 in the tiebreaker but fought back again. The Australian converted four of her 10 break point opportunities to win in just over two hours.

Ash Barty was given a bouquet of flowers after her win to celebrate her birthday.Credit:AP

Barty will play Aryna Sabalenka in Sunday’s final as she bids for her first clay title since the 2019 French Open.

Sabalenka defeated the second-seeded Simona Halep 6-3, 6-2 in the second semi-final. The Belarusian saved all three break points she faced and converted three of her own nine opportunities to win in just over an hour.

Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic crashed out of his own tournament after Russia’s Aslan Karatsev beat him 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 to reach the Serbia Open final and avenge the Australian Open semi-final defeat by the world No.1.

Djokovic failed to convert a barrage of break points against Karatsev, suffering his second successive shock exit on red clay in quick succession after he was beaten by Briton Dan Evans in the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters last week.

Barty came back from a set down to win.Credit:Getty Images

The Russian will meet Matteo Berrettini in Sunday’s final after the Italian beat Japanese rival Taro Daniel 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-0 in the other semi-final at Djokovic’s tennis centre by the Danube river in Belgrade.

Djokovic praised Karatsev after what he said was a forgettable evening.

“Hats off to Karatsev, he was bold and deserved to win,” Djokovic told an online news conference.

“I will probably not be able to recollect all the memorable rallies in this match because I lost. I am not happy with my performance, I put up a fight but he delivered great shots every time he needed to.

Aslan Karatsev celebrates en route to his win over Novak Djokovic.Credit:AP

“I was unlucky at times, it all came down to one or two shots but I had too many ups and downs throughout the match.”

Karatsev said: “This is definitely the most important victory of my career. At the Australian Open in Melbourne I felt like I was playing against a wall but this is a different surface and I was focused.”

AP, Reuters

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