Italian rookie, qualifier in Hobart final

Italian youngster Elisabetta Cocciaretto is on the verge of a maiden WTA title after knocking out former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin at the Hobart International.

World No.67 Cocciaretto, who has beaten two seeded players at the tournament including Alize Cornet in the first round, progressed to the final with a 7-5 4-6 6-1 win on Friday.

The 21-year-old finished with a flurry after being broken in the final game of the second set.

"It's unbelievable to be in the final. It was unexpected again. She is a very good player," Cocciaretto said.

"She was very aggressive in the second set. At 4-all she played unbelievable. I was a little bit nervous. I'm improving and doing better. My serve, it worked a lot."

Cocciaretto followed up her win over third seed Cornet by beating higher-ranked countrywoman Jasmine Paolini in the second round and sixth seed Bernarda Pera in the quarter-finals.

She'll meet Lauren Davis in Saturday's final after the American beat fellow qualifier Anna Blinkova 6-3 6-3.

Kenin said she will take plenty of positives from her Hobart semi-final run into next week's Australian Open, where she meets two-time champion Victoria Azarenka in the first round.

The 24-year-old, who reached a career-high world No.4 not long after her 2020 Open triumph, has dropped to 280 in the rankings following battles with form and injury.

"I feel like I, overall, played well. It was a good tournament for me. I enjoyed coming back again," Kenin, the 2019 Hobart winner, said.

"My energy went down a bit (in the third set). A bit exhausted and everything.

"She played well. I could have done things better in a few moments but it just didn't go my way."

Davis, who upset fourth seed Sloane Stephens in the first round, was down 3-0 in the first set against Blinkova before coming to life and reeling off the next six games.

It is her first final since winning Auckland in 2017.

"I'm very excited. It's been a while, so I'm going to soak it up and enjoy it," she said.