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Barty leads fresh faces into Western & Southern finals

Western & Southern Open - Day 7

MASON, OHIO - AUGUST 21: Ashleigh Barty of Australia returns a shot to Angelique Kerber of Germany during the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open at Lindner Family Tennis Center on August 21, 2021 in Mason, Ohio. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

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MASON, Ohio - Top-ranked Ash Barty will make her first Western & Southern final appearance Sunday.

Just like everybody else.

No. 76 Jil Teichmann will meet Barty in the women’s final. Olympic gold medalist Alexander Zverev will face No. 7 Andrey Rublev in the men’s final after the seventh-ranked Rublev rallied to upset No. 2 and top-seeded Daniil Medvedev, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 on Saturday in the first men’s semifinal.

The fifth-ranked, third-seeded Zverev shook off stomach issues that prompted a a visit from medical personnel during a third set changeover to outlast No. 3 and second-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (4).

The tournament finals berths are the first for all four.

Teichmann, a wild-card entry who already had upset No. 2 Naomi Osaka and No. 12 Belinda Bencic, dumped No. 4 and fifth-seeded Karolina Pliskova , 6-2, 6-4, to set up a match against the reigning Wimbledon champion.

The 25-year-old Barty used a strong service game to survive a challenge from No. 22 Angelique Kerber and reach the women’s final with a 6-2, 7-5 semifinal win, also on Saturday.

“I really like it,” the left-handed Teichmann said. “It’s a nice challenge - center court, playing the world No 1 in a final. I’ll just go for it.”

The turning point for Rublev came on Medvedev’s serve in the eighth game of the third set, which featured eight deuces and five break points.

“That was a turning point for both of us because it (is) so humid and so hot,” Rublev said. “We had many long rallies, and I could feel Daniil was tired because he made some mistakes he doesn’t usually make. I felt like that was the moment for both of us. I felt like if I won, I would have a good chance to win the match because Daniil would be more down. In the end, I won that crazy game.”

Medvedev, the 2019 champion and 2020 runner-up to Novak Djokovic, overcame a run-in with a television camera, but he couldn’t get past his fellow Russian. Rublev won for the first time in five meetings with Medvedev and on Sunday will meet the winner of the match between second-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas and third-seeded Alexander Zverev.

Medvedev ran into a courtside camera while chasing down a shot in the third game of the second set. The right-hander then kicked the camera before being treated for an injury to his left hand during the changeover.

He also received treatment on his right forearm before the sixth game of the third set.

Barty ripped 12 aces to the 33-year-old Kerber’s one while double-faulting just once to three by Kerber in a rematch of their Wimbledon semifinal.

“I think I did a pretty good job with my service games,” Barty said. “I served well and got some cheap points. Angie is a hell of a returner, one of the best in the game, and I wanted to take that away.”

“She has so much confidence right now,” Kerber said of Barty. “She plays so well. Her serve is good. It’s a big weapon from her, and she’s playing tricky as well. She knows where to put the ball and how to play the moment. That’s why she is where she is.”

Pliskova missed a chance at a rematch of this year’s Wimbledon final.

“I felt like I didn’t play my best tennis today, but her game is not comfortable to play against,” Pliskova said of Teichmann. “She’s a lefty. She was serving great. She was playing confident and fast.”