Bernard into second straight Sydney final
Bernard Tomic has kept alive his hopes of winning back-to-back Apia International Sydney titles after clawing his way into Saturday’s final.
Tomic will take on top seed Juan Martin del Potro in the title match after fighting his way past giant-killing qualifier Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-7(4) 7-5 6-3 in Friday’s second semifinal.
Earlier, del Potro thumped Russian fourth seed Dmitry Tursunov 6-4 6-2 in his semifinal to continue his impressive unbeaten start to the summer.
The Australian was cruising at 3-0 and 40-love in the first set before he suddenly lost focus, allowing Stakhovsky to hold serve and break back in the seventh game to force the tiebreaker, which the Ukraine clinched with a delicate backhand drop volley.
With his confidence up and producing the type of sublime attacking tennis he delivered to stun Roger Federer at Wimbledon last year, Stakhovsky controlled the second set and stood within two games of the final.
But Tomic dug deep to break the world No.101 in the 11th game and snatch the set on his fourth set point to send the match into a decider.
Looking fatigued, Tomic called for the trainer before the start of the third set but fired up again to claim the decisive break in the seventh game with a lunging forehand cross-court pass.
He broke the Ukrainian again in the ninth game to seal victory after two hours and 13 minutes.
He will be bidding to become the first Australian to successfully defending his crown in Sydney since Lleyton Hewitt in 2005.
Hewitt also claimed back-to-back titles in 2000-01.