Bernard Tomic to play Juan Martin del Potro in Sydney final
Defending champion Tomic beats Sergiy Stakhovsksy in last four
Del Potro eases past Dmitry Tursunov in other semifinal
Tsvetana Pirinkova wins maiden WTA title in Sydney
Bernard Tomic is facing two of the most important matches of his tennis career after reaching the final of the ATP tournament in Sydney Friday.
The talented 21-year-old from Australia faces Juan Martin del Potro as he defends the title he won last year.
If that was not a formidable enough challenge, Tomic’s next match will be a first round Australian Open encounter with world number one Rafael Nadal in Melbourne.
First he must focus on No.5 ranked and top seed del Potro, who eased into the title match with a 6-4 6-2 win over Dmitry Tursunov.
Tomic, by contrast, had to battle past qualifier Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-7 7-5 6-3 in two hours and 14 minutes.
“The way I played here, I’m very happy,” Tomic told the ATP official website.
“Tomorrow is going to be a difficult match. I’ve got to prepare as best as I can. Last time I played he beat me pretty comfortably, 6-3 6-3. I felt like I had chances in that match. “
Tomic won his first ATP Tour title in Sydney last year, but ranked 52nd has been unable to build on that victory.
On home courts, Tomic will be looking to deny del Potro his 18th ATP Tour title, but before he learned of his Nadal match up was talking up his chances against the elite of the world game in the opening slam of the season.
“You want to try and avoid the big guys, but if you’re confident, if you’re doing the right things, and you feel fit, why not playing them the first round or two?,” he said.
“If that happens I have to play someone big, it’s an opportunity.”
Del Potro beat Tomic in their only previous encounter last year. “I’m glad with my level of play today. I’m looking forward for the final of tomorrow,” he said after beating Russia’s Tursunov.
In the women’s final in Sydney there was a big upset as Bulgarian qualifier Tsvetana Pironkova capped a stunning week with a straight sets victory over fifth seed Angelique Kerber of Germany.
Pironkova, the world number 107, defeated her third top-ten ranked opponent of the week with a 6-4 6-4 victory.
She had previously beaten second seed Petra Kvitova after beating Italian third seed Sara Errani in the quarterfinals.
The 27-year-old, best known for reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon in 2010, was overcome with emotion after her title triumph, her first on the WTA circuit.
“This is something that I’ve been waiting for for so long and something that I’ve missed so much. Now that I finally have it, it’s all surreal. I still cannot believe it, honestly,” she said.
Pirinkova will face Spaniard Silvia Soler-Espinosa in the first round of the Australian Open and is in the same half of the draw as top seed Serena Williams.