(Reuters) - Elina Svitolina switched gears after a poor start to knock out holder Karolina Pliskova and set up a title clash with qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich at the Brisbane International on Friday.
Third seed Svitolina was staring at a potential hammering at the hands of her big-hitting Czech opponent as she went behind 4-0 in the opening set before finding her feet to seal a 7-5 7-5 victory in an hour and 39 minutes.
Sasnovich became the first qualifier to reach the final at Brisbane as she overcame a leg injury to dump out seventh seed Anastasija Sevastova 7-6(3) 6-4 in the other semi-final.
Trailing early in the contest, Svitolina reeled off seven of the next eight games to take the first set. The Ukranian raced to a 5-2 lead in the second but Pliskova was not ready to surrender and saved a match point before leveling at 5-5.
A double fault by Pliskova gave Svitolina the opening she needed to serve for the match and the No.6 completed the job in style.
Earlier, world No.88 Sasnovich began her match strongly but allowed Sevastova to push the first set to a tiebreaker before regaining composure to secure the early advantage.
Clearly feeling the effects of playing her seventh match of the tournament, Sasnovich called for a medical timeout before the second set.
She soldiered on with heavy strapping on her legs and saved two breakpoints to hold for 3-3 and won a decisive break in the ninth game of the second set to set up the victory.
“I really like to start the season like this,” Sasnovich said. “But (making the) final, it’s not enough for me. The title is forever. Maybe some people forget (the losing finalist), but the winner, no one.
“It’s good for me, good for our country, good for all of the people who support me. Without them, it was not possible ... It’s nice to be first (qualifier in the final). It has motivated me.”
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by David Goodman