AUCKLAND: New Zealand-raised Briton Cameron Norrie stormed into the final of the Auckland Open with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Jenson Brooksby on Friday, while Thanasi Kokkinakis's title defence at the Adelaide International 2 came to an end in the semifinals.
World number 12 Norrie, who continued his unbeaten start to the season ahead of the Australian Open, will face Richard Gasquet for the title on Saturday after the French veteran was awarded a walkover in his semifinal against compatriot Constant Lestienne, who withdrew with a shoulder injury.
Norrie lost only a single point on his own serve in the opening set and was all over the American's, finally achieving the breakthrough that all but assured him of the set after Brooksby had saved five break points.
Despite a wrist problem that needed a injury timeout, Brooksby made the second seed work hard for the victory in the second set but every time he asked a question, Norrie had an answer.
An early break of serve by the American was answered with an immediate break back to love and Norrie broke again to take a 4-3 lead, finally reaching his 12th career ATP final on his third match point.
"It was an absolute battle with Jenson, lot of long rallies, I know how well he competes so I'm just glad to get it done in straight sets," said Norrie, the runner up in Auckland in 2019.
"I really enjoyed it. I'm glad the sun came out, everyone came out on a Friday, the atmosphere was great."
However, Jack Draper was unable to match compatriot Norrie's feat by making it into the final of the other ATP warm-up for the Australian Open being played this week in Adelaide.
Draper, who will play Rafael Nadal in the opening round at Melbourne Park next week, was beaten 7-6(6), 6-7(2), 6-3 by South Korean Kwon Soon-woo in the first semifinal before Kokkinakis lost to Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut.
Kokkinakis, who claimed his first ATP title at Adelaide last year, was cheered on by a vocal home crowd, but Agut displayed remarkable composure to save nine break points in the deciding set and claim a 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-3 victory.
"He's a very good player, he was serving unreal," Bautista Agut said. "He's very good on this court. I think he has a great potential, I wish him the very best. Today was very tough to beat Thanasi on this court." -- Reuters