Elisabetta Cocciaretto of Italy broke through to her first Hologic WTA Tour singles final at the Hobart International, outlasting 2019 champion Sofia Kenin 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 in a 2-hour and 8-minute semifinal on Friday.
The 21-year-old, ranked 67th in the world, fired 34 winners, including nine aces, to overcome 2020 Australian Open champion Kenin and prevail in her second career tour-level semifinal.
Words from the winner: "It’s unbelievable for me to be here in the final of such a great tournament, and I’m really happy about my performance today," Cocciaretto said on court, after her win. "[Kenin is] a very good player, I was a junior when she won the Grand Slam, so for me it’s an honor to play against her.
"The first set, I took the chance to win the set, and then the second set, she was more focused, she was more aggressive than me. I think that's why she won the second. Then I tried to change my game a little bit in the third, and it was really tough, but I’m happy about my win."
Fast facts: Cocciaretto has risen nearly 100 spots in the rankings since this time last year, and she is now one win away from her first WTA Tour singles title. The Italian has already won one WTA 125 singles title, at Tampico last season.
Former World No.4 Kenin suffered her first defeat at the Hobart International, having won the 2019 title in her only previous tournament appearance. It was also Kenin's first loss to an Italian player in seven career meetings with players from that country.
Match moments: Cocciaretto fought back from set point down at 5-4 in the opener, blasting forehands to steal the one-set lead. But in the second set, it was Kenin’s turn to stage a comeback, fighting from an early break down before breaking Cocciaretto at love to level the match.
Cocciaretto regrouped splendidly in the third set, breaking Kenin twice in a row before saving five break points, two of those with aces, to tough out a gritty hold for 4-0. In the final game, Cocciaretto combined outstanding defense with pinpoint groundstrokes to earn her sixth service break.
Davis knocks out Blinkova: Cocciaretto will face her third straight American opponent when she meets Lauren Davis in Saturday's final. In a clash between qualifiers, World No.84 Davis breezed past 72nd-ranked Anna Blinkova 6-3, 6-3 in the day's second semifinal.
The result marks a long-awaited return to a WTA Tour singles final for former Top 30 player Davis. The 29-year-old American is into her first final since she won her maiden title in Auckland exactly six years ago. Davis has not dropped a set all week, including in her two qualifying wins.
Highlights: Davis def. Blinkova
"I'm really excited, this is my first final in a while," Davis said on court, after her victory. "I've got a lot of matches under my belt and I have a lot of confidence, really just enjoying myself. So kind of just soaking it all in right now."
Blinkova had cruised past Davis 6-2, 6-2 in their only previous meeting at 2019 New Haven, but Davis got her revenge after 91 minutes of play on Friday. Davis won 83 percent of her first-service points as she eased past Blinkova into the fourth singles final of her career.
Final showdown: Cocciaretto defeated Davis 6-3, 6-0 in their only previous meeting, in the 2021 Guadalajara quarterfinals.
"We've played before a couple years ago, and also practiced quite a bit," Davis said, looking ahead to the final. "I think we're similar height, and she's quite the fighter, she's a really good competitor. So I think that's going to make for an exciting final tomorrow."