Defending champion Julia Goerges extended her nine-match winning streak and reached her second straight final at the ASB Classic, as she overcame Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova 6-1, 7-6(6) in 86 minutes. In her 15th career WTA final, she will face Bianca Andreescu who defeated Hsieh Su-Wei 6-3 6-3 to become the first qualifier to reach the Auckland final since Marion Maruska won the title beating Judith Wiesner in an all-Austrian final in 1997.
Here in Auckland, one year ago, Goerges had beaten Kuzmova in the second round in the first of their four career meetings. She went on to defeat her in Moscow and Luxembourg later last season, to move 4-0 up in their head to head series without losing a set yet.
The German won 76% of first serve points and reached 25 aces so far in this first week of the season. Eight were served during the match, two in each of her first service games as she built a 3-0 lead. Easily she went 5-0 up, Kuzmova erased three set points on serve to avoid a bagel but she surrendered the opening set on a backhand wide.
After an early break, Goerges found a sterner resistance from the Slovakian teenager. Playing her third WTA Tour semifinal following Budapest and 's-Hertogenbosch last year, seeking to make her maiden final, Kuzmova began to show her powerful groundstrokes and completed a break back at love at 4-3 to level the set.
Winner after winner, the set ended in a tense tiebreaker that began with four straight points against serve. Goerges move 5-4 ahead with a forehand winner, Kuzmova aggressively saved two match points from 6-4 down but on the third, she netted a return.
Andreescu, who closed all her social media accounts because she felt overwhelmed by that kind of stuff, clearly can't correspond to the profile of the typical teenager. On tour since almost three years, she beat Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams this week to produce the undoubted highlight of her career so far.
Playing just her fourth WTA-level main draw Andreescu, who made her main draw debut at Wimbledon in 2017 and later that year made her maiden quarterfinal in Washington, made her hard work finally paid its dividends. "A lot has happened," said Andreescu after her stunning victory over Venus Williams.
"I've worked really hard for this moment. There have been a lot of tough times. Seeing a lot of the younger players doing well gives me inspiration." Hsieh looked helpless for most of the fourth semifinal in her past six tournaments, stretching back to Hiroshima last September, where the Chinese Taipei No.1 captured her third career title.
The Taiwanese, who moved to the last four for the second straight year, lost her serve twice in a row to give Andreescu a 4-1 lead in the opening set. The Canadian gifted one break back but she managed to convert the second set point.
Andreescu proved to know how to counter Hsieh's mastery in drop shots and lobs and gave her opponent a rare taste of her own tactic. She managed to deliver 29 winners throughout the match and offered a complete showing of her variegated array in terms of technical ways to seal the point.
A single break was enough, instead, to decide the second set. Hsieh tallied 26 unforced errors, a testimony to Andreescu's aggressive mindset, and the Canadian teenager extended her fairytale in New Zealand.
WTA Auckland - Semifinal
[q]Bianca Andreescu (CAN) d. Hsieh Su-Wei 6-3 6--3
Julia Goerges d. Viktoria Kuzmova 6-1 7-6(6)