BOGOTA, Colombia - Australia’s Astra Sharma is through to the first WTA final of her career after stunning former Bogota champion Lara Arruabarrena in straight sets at the Claro Open Colsanitas.
Sharma rained down 32 winners and 10 aces against the Spaniard, booking her spot in the final after an emphatic 7-5, 6-1 victory after just 66 minutes.
“I’m so excited to be in my first final, I’m so happy to be playing so well this week,” Sharma told press after the win. “I love Bogota, obviously, it’s playing really well this week. I can’t believe I’m in the final here, it’s unreal.”
The 23-year-old former Vanderbilt collegiate tennis player has already marked a couple of career firsts this week, including winning in her maiden WTA quarterfinal appearance here against Sara Errani, a 2012 French Open finalist.
In the semifinals, Sharma faced a big challenge against Arruabarrena: the Spaniard was practically playing on home turf after lifting a trophy here in 2012 and reaching the final in 2017 and 2018.
But Sharma was undaunted by Arruabarrena’s stellar Bogota credentials, and applied her aggressive, solid game from the very start. The first set was a closely contested affair decided by the smallest of margins. There were no break chances on offer for the first eight games, both players dialed in from the start and the server taking the games comfortably.
It was Arruabarrena who finally drew first blood, taking advantage of Sharma’s more vulnerable second serves to seal a break at 5-4. But Sharma didn’t let that stand unanswered, and replied with a break of her own to keep herself in the set - dodging two set points in the process.
Saving break points seemed to spark a surge in Sharma, and the Australian never looked back - even as Arruabarrena held game points at 6-5 that would have sent them into a tiebreaker. Sharma’s heavy hitting kept Arruabarrena on the back foot, and a double fault from the Spaniard gave Sharma the set.
“I think I started making more returns,” Sharma explained her dramatic turnaround after the first set. “I had chances in the first game with her service games, but she just kept getting to them. In the end, I just started making her play a little bit more and that got the pressure going.”
From there, Sharma raised her level and continued her torrid momentum as she dominated the second set. She recorded back-to-back breaks of the Arruabarrena serve and claimed the last five games in a row to seal her spot in the Bogota final.
“The most important thing this week has been keeping myself really good mentally,” Sharma said. “Staying calm, staying positive, not thinking too much or getting too negative on court. I’ve just been really solid and consistent, point by point.”
Up next, the Australian will take on the No.6 seed Amanda Anisimova in the Claro Open Colsanitas final as both players seek their career first WTA title. Anisimova outlasted Brazilian qualifier Beatriz Haddad Maia in three sets to advance.
“I don’t know too much about her, but I’m going to come out with the same energy, same intensity, and playing my game,” Sharma said. “I’m going to need to get my first serve percentage up, too. It’s all going to be key tomorrow.”