Two-time Hobart International champion Elise Mertens will face first-time WTA finalist Emma Navarro in this year's final after two contrasting semifinal victories.

No.1 seed Mertens of Belgium needed 2 hours and 58 minutes before overcoming Australian wild card Daria Saville 6-4, 4-6, 7-5. She was followed by American No.2 seed Navarro, who eased past qualifier Yuan Yue 6-4, 6-3.

Mertens now holds a 5-2 lead over Saville in the head-to-head between the former Top 20 players.

"All credit to her, it was a very difficult match, it could go either way," Mertens said on court after her win. "Very tough, I just tried to play point by point, and I knew it was going to be difficult at the start of the match already.”

The grueling victory by World No.29 Mertens puts her into her third career Hobart International final. Mertens won back-to-back titles at the tournament in 2017 and 2018, and she now holds a 15-2 win-loss record in Hobart main-draw matches.

Mertens, who ended 2023 by claiming her eighth career title in Monastir, has now won 10 of her last 11 matches.

It took Mertens and Saville an hour and 50 minutes to split the first two sets, as the pair battled through a number of extended points. In the third set, Mertens came out on top in rallies to take an early 3-1 lead, but Saville reached level footing again at 3-3.

However, the Aussie hope dropped serve at 5-5 with a double fault, giving Mertens a chance to serve for the match. The Belgian came through that game with flying colors, finishing the match with a 4-for-9 break point conversion rate. Saville also had nine break points, but converted three.

Navarro has risen to her current career-high of No.31 after a hard-working 2023 season in which the 22-year-old compiled a 64-24 record. That included a first WTA 125 final on the clay of Bastad in July, and a first tour-level semifinal in San Diego -- via an upset of Maria Sakkari -- in September.

Highlights: Navarro def. Yuan

At her highest seed so far in a WTA main draw, Navarro has handled her status with aplomb. Against Yuan, she did not face a break point all match, winning 73% of her first serves and 71% of her second serves. Navarro withstood the Chinese player's barrage of big hitting at the start of the match, making her move at 4-4 with some smartly-placed forehands to capture the only break of the first set.

University of Virginia alumna Navarro, who was the 2019 Roland Garros junior runner-up to Leylah Fernandez, maintained her momentum in the second set. After breaking Yuan again in the first game, Navarro held her lead with a series of pinpoint backhands down the line.

Mertens and Navarro will contest the third final in four tournaments so far this season between the No.1 and No.2 seeds. They have never played before.