Elena Rybakina defeated two-time champion Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (4), 6-3 on Thursday at the Australian Open to reach her second Grand Slam final.
Last summer’s Wimbledon winner from Kazakhstan also backed up her straight-set Indian Wells defeat of the 2012-2013 champion at Melbourne Park.
Rybakina, who will play her second final at a major from her last three, faced a third consecutive Grand Slam winner after defeating Iga Swiatek and Jelena Ostapenko in earlier rounds.
Rybakina and Azarenka traded four breaks of serve in a first set lasting for 62 minutes, with the former winner saving a set point in the ninth game.
Rybakina finally prevailed to win the opener in a tiebreaker.
The Kazakh got away to an early break in the second set and moved into winning position as Azarenka sent a forehand wide to trail 5-2 down a double break.
A game later, Azarenka made a last stand, breaking her opponent as Rybakina served for victory.
But Aazarnka gave it away moments ater with her third double-fault to yield three match points for her opponent.
Rybakina finally earned the win on an Azarenka backhand to the net after nearly an hour and three-quarters on court.
“I’m super-happy and proud, I’m glad to be in the finals here,” the winner said.
“I could tell my team was nervous, they wanted me to perform well.
“Today was difficult conditions, with the ball not moving so fast through the air. I could not play aggressive as I like.
“But I tried to do the best I could. Of course, I’ll try my best in the (Saturday) final.
“I’ve got experience from Wimbledon. I want to come onto the court and enjoy the moment and the atmosphere – we’ll see how it will go.”