Juan Martin del Potro to meet Tomic in men’s final

Bulgarian qualifier Tsvetana Pironkova beat fifth seed Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-4, 6-4 on Friday to claim her first WTA career title, at the Sydney International.

The number 107, watched by her parents, dedicated the victory in her first final to her late grandfather and thanks the physiotherapists who saw her through eight matches in as many days.

“Mom, dad, we have a trophy,” said the winner.

Pironkova became the first qualifier to win a title at WTA Premier level since 2010. She beat three top 10 players in her march to the trophy after losing her first seven career semi-finals prior to Thursday when she defeated former Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova.

On the men’s side, Juan Martin del Potro fulfilled his top seeding on Friday as he defeated Russian Dmitry Tursunov 6-4, 6-2 for a place in the final against Australian holder Bernard Tomic, who fought off a wave of illness and a tough opponent in Sergiy Stakhovsky to post a 6-7 (4-7), 7-5, 6-3 win.

Tomic will be bidding for the second title of his career as he tries to back up a trophy for the first time. He will surely also have his first-round Australian Open match against Rafael Nadal in the back of his mind.

Del Potro won their only previous meeting last summer on Washington hardcourt against Tomic, who was thrilled with his fightback.

“I feel in similar shape to last year, but I’m more experienced.” Tomic said. “I’m very happy with the way I played here, but tomorrow’s going to be tough.

“I know what Juan’s going to be doing, I need to serve well against him. I’ve got to stick with him tomorrow if I want to win.” Del Potro has begun his 2014 season in solid style after testing racquets during the off-season but finding himself unable to come up with a comfortable replacement for his obsolete frames - of which he reportedly has just two left.

The Argentine needed little more than an hour as he powered into a seventh final over the past year.

“I think I’m getting closer to the top four guys,” said del Potro, who has claimed four titles each over the past two seasons. “They’re playing great tennis but if I’m, I can try to be a danger to them.” He added: “I need to play my game tomorrow, be aggressive like always. Today was my best match of the week, good serve, groundstrokes, volleys.” Del Potro has now won 22 straight matches when playing as a top seed, winning his last four tournaments atop the draw: Basel (2013), Tokyo (2013), Washington (2013) and Vienna (2012).

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