British No1 Johanna Konta continued her encouraging preparations for next week’s Australian Open on Thursday by reaching only her third WTA Tour final at the Apia International in Sydney.
Her progress capped a fine evening for British players at the tournament, after Dan Evans defeated a top-10 ranked opponent for the first time to advance to the semi-finals of the men’s draw.
Konta swept past former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard 6-2, 6-2 – maintaining her record of not dropping a set yet this week – to set up a final with world No3 Agnieszka Radwanska on Friday.
Radwanska beat Konta, ranked 10th in the world and already assured of climbing when the standings are updated on Monday, in the Briton’s last final, in Beijing three months ago.
“She has been one of the best players for as long as I can remember,” said Konta. “I played her twice before, lost twice, so hopefully I’ll do a better job tomorrow.”
Evans on the rise
Evans, meanwhile, is just one match away from a first ATP Tour final after he came from a set down to beat Austrian world No8 Dominic Thiem 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.
The British men’s No3 faces Russian world No48 Andrey Kuznetsov on Friday in Evans’s first semi-final for almost three years.
He is set to start the Australian Open – where Sir Andy Murray will be top seed at a grand slam for the first time – back in the world’s top 55, regardless of his result against Kuznetsov.
Robson loses seven in a row
Compatriot Laura Robson has failed in her bid to qualify for the year’s first Major, however, after she crashed out in the first round of qualifying in Melbourne.
Injury-plagued former junior Wimbledon champion Robson lost 6-2, 6-4 to France’s Amandine Hesse, her seventh consecutive defeat.