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Katie Boulter reaches first WTA 500 final at San Diego Open

Katie Boulter reaches first WTA 500 final at San Diego Open
© Reuters
British number one Katie Boulter makes the final of a WTA 500 tournament for the first time with a 6-3 6-1 semi-final win over Emma Navarro in San Diego.

British number one Katie Boulter reached the final of a WTA 500 tournament for the first time with a stunning semi-final triumph over the USA's Emma Navarro at the San Diego Open.

The 27-year-old emphatically bested the American 6-3 6-1 to advance to just her second trophy match on the WTA Tour, as well as her maiden top-level final on hard courts.

Boulter's first and only WTA Tour final to date came at last year's Nottingham Open, where she defeated compatriot Jodie Burrage to lift the title, and Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk will stand in her way of an inaugural WTA 500 honour.

"Today was one of those matches where everything just clicks," a brimming Boulter said during her on-court interview. "I came on the court and started the first few games and I could feel the power that she had and the way she works and manoeuvres the ball. I knew I had to come up with something better.

"I'm very happy with my tennis. Honestly, at the start of this week, I didn't think I'd be in this position. But I'm just going to go out there and swing away."

Coming into Saturday's final-four encounter, Boulter had only dropped one set in her earlier battles with Donna Vekic, Beatriz Haddad Maia and Lesia Tsurenko, despite showcasing a propensity for double faults throughout the San Diego tournament.

The world number 49 - who will hit a career-best ranking next week - committed another four such errors during Saturday's semi-final but dominated behind her first serve, winning 88% of such points throughout the one-hour and 47-minute battle.

Boulter broke at the second time of asking in the opening set to establish a 3-2 advantage, and despite squandering another chance for a double break immediately afterwards, the Briton repeated the trick in the ninth game on her first set point.

Navarro continued to come under pressure from the rampant Boulter, who let three break points slip in the second game of the second set but converted her fourth, establishing a healthy 3-0 lead.

The 27-year-old fell 40-15 down on serve in the fifth game, but she battled back to save both of those break points and was on the cusp of victory when she broke Navarro for the fourth time in the sixth game.

Boulter had failed to post a single love hold throughout the contest before having the chance to serve for the match, but on her first of three match points, the world number 49 broke down Navarro's defence and sealed the win on a forehand smash at the net.

Thanks to her first-ever WTA 500 semi-final success, Boulter will meet Kostyuk in their maiden top-level showdown in Sunday's final courtesy of the Ukrainian's shock 7-6[4] 6-1 beating of top seed Jessica Pegula, who let a 5-1 lead slip in the first set as Kostyuk beat a top-five player for the first time in her career.

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