Australia's world No.1 Ashleigh Barty has beaten eighth-seeded Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens 6-3 3-6 7-6 (9-7) in Beijing to set up a China Open final with Japan's Naomi Osaka.
Both Barty and Bertens saved a match point in a thrilling third set tiebreak before the Australian top seed wrapped up the encounter in two hours 20 minutes on Saturday.
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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.
— WTA (@WTA) October 5, 2019
"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."
Tennis fans couldn’t believe Barty’s escape act.
ASH BARTY INTO CHINA OPEN FINAL.
In an incredible finish, @ashbar96 saves a match point in a thrilling final-set tiebreak to beat Kiki Bertens 6-3 3-6 7-6(7).
In the final she will face Naomi Osaka or Caroline Wozniacki.#GoAussies #ChinaOpen
— TennisAustralia (@TennisAustralia) October 5, 2019
That was one heckuva finish.
Ash Barty saves a match point and rallies to defeat Kiki Bertens 6-3 3-6 7-6(7). Barty saved her MP with Bertens serving at 7-6 in the breaker. Bertens also had an incredible match point save two points earlier.
Incredible stuff from both.
— TennisNow (@Tennis_Now) October 5, 2019
Wow can't believe Barty won😱
I felt like Bertens was a better player from the beginning of the second set, I was sure she'll win somehow
— Nex (@atomic_moonball) October 5, 2019
Omg Barty that was a nail bitter 😬 Phew! 😅 Well done! 👏💪🇦🇺 #BartyParty
— 💧🌱🧭 Olivia 🦋 (@SerenityNow___) October 5, 2019
🎢 I don’t know how she does it
— Jess O'Brien (@Ica_June) October 5, 2019
ASH,you scared me there!!!! WOWEEeee... CONGRATULATIONS GREAT WIN 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻💪🏻💪🏻🎾Good luck in the final!🍀❤️#ChinaOpen
— Linda Large (@lindaleelarge) October 5, 2019
How was that fightback again? 💪 Well played by both Ladies 🙌
— JoJo💋🌹 (@JojosTweety) October 5, 2019
Osaka awaits in final
Fourth seed Osaka beat defending champion Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets in the other semi-final, coming away with a 6-4 6-2 victory in one hour and 24 minutes.
The reigning Australian Open champion smashed 30 winners and saved all seven break points she faced, which included six in the second set.
She also broke Wozniacki three times for her first win over the Danish 29-year-old in three attempts.
Sunday's final will be the fourth meeting between Barty and Osaka, with the Australian leading 2-1 in head-to-head encounters.