Australia's Ashleigh Barty in action.
Australia's Ashleigh Barty in action. Tim Goode

Barty surges into Birmingham semis, Dasha crashes out

ASH Barty continues to surge up the rankings, securing a provisional new career-high mark after reaching the AEGON Classic semi-finals in Birmingham.

The Queenslander progressed to a last-four appointment with French Open winner Garbine Muguruza after Italian Camila Giorgi retired when trailing 2-5 with a groin strain.

Unranked last season after returning to tennis, Barty will rise to at least No 66 next week.

Barty and Muguruza will clash in a contrast of styles for the right to face Daria Gavrilova's quarter-final conqueror Lucie Safarova or dual Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the final.

Winner of the Kuala Lumpur title in March, Barty could crack the top 50 - only 18 months after returning to tennis from cricket - by the end of Wimbledon.

The gifted right-hander is excited to test her game against former world No 2 Muguruza.

"She's a grand slam champion so it's a great opportunity to test my skills against her on grass," Barty said.

"It's (Giorgi's retirement) is not ideal, but it's exciting to be in the semi-finals of a Premier (level tournament).

"For me, no. I try not to take too much notice to the other side, just tried to start the match well and go about my own business, but obviously we're pretty excited to be through to the semis, but you never want to win a match like that."

Muguruza also advanced in abbreviated fashion as Coco Vandeweghe retired at 4-6 6-4.


Australian tennis player Daria Gavrilova.
Australian tennis player Daria Gavrilova. CLAUDIO ONORATI

Gavrilova was denied entry into the world's top 20 after Safarova dramatically saved three match points in a cliffhanger quarter-final.

In an epic contest stretching 3hrs 3mins, Gavrilova was beaten 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 7-6 (7-5) despite leading the third set tiebreak 5-3.

When the rankings are updated on Monday, Gavrilova will remain at No 21, trailing Swiss Timea Bacsinszky by just 73 points.

Had Gavrilova converted her opportunities against French Open runner-up Safarova, she would have overtaken Bacsinszky.

Russian-born Gavrilova last week ended Sam Stosur's 452-week reign as Australian No 1.

Safarova was more threatening early and held five set points with Gavrilova serving at 5-6 in a marathon game.

It lasted 16 minutes and an amazing 24 points before Gavrilova eventually held serve.

Reprieved, Gavrilova stormed to a 6-0 in the tiebreak - and then needed five set points to clinch it.

The contest took another bizarre turn in the second set as Safarova sped to 4-0 as conditions eased.

Safarova served for the set at 5-2 and lost serve before breaking back immediately to square the match.

Armed with advantage of serving first in the decider, Safarova blundered in the seventh game as Gavrilova pounced.

Gavrilova held two match points against Safarova's serve in the ninth game but was denied.

The Australian held another match point on her own serve but was again stymied - and then double-faulted to lose serve.

She then controlled the tiebreak, earning two mini-breaks to lead 5-3 before Safarova reeled off the final four points of the match.

News Corp Australia

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