Melbourne, Australia, 6 December 2013 |

Zoe Hives and Maddison Inglis will face off in the Australian girls’ 18-and-under championships final after posting contrasting victories at Melbourne Park on Friday.

Hives, the eighth seed, romped to a 6-1 6-2 victory over No.6 seed Andrea Dikosavljevic while Inglis clinched a tough 7-5 3-6 6-4 win over second seed Kimberly Birrell.

Hives secured her path to the final with a big forehand winner on match point – one of several powerful shots from that wing – but came off court less the pleased with her performance.

“I’m happy I got through – that’s all I can really say,” she said with a laugh.

“(I need to) just get more solid, I just missed a few too many balls today. I just want to make a few more, that’s all … (but) I served well, I didn’t do many doubles, and I put a bit of pressure on her as well as with my return.”

> view the girls’ Australian 18-and-under Championships draw

Indeed, Hives’ serve, return and general weight of shot were too much for Dikosavljevic to handle. After coming through a marathon game at deuce to hold for 4-1, Hives smacked an inside-out forehand winner to break for 5-1, and pocketed the set following the next game during which her opponent went down in a bundle of errors.

Leading by a break early in the second set, Hives dropped her serve to hand the advantage straight back, and grew visibly frustrated.

But she recovered, reeling off four straight games to pocket the victory. She fell behind 0-30 when serving for the match, but a forehand winner on the next point – with technique, shape and depth reminiscent of Sam Stosur – announcing her positive, aggressive intentions.

“That’s what I’m trying to do with my forehand; thank God it’s working,” she said.

Across on Court 7, it was the backhand that took precedence in the match between Inglis and Birrell.

The 15-year-olds engaged in a glorious slug-fest where backhand winners and strong returning were the keys to success, and where both were extremely evenly-matched.

After Inglis took the first set, Birrell roared back to take the second set and build a 3-1 lead in the third. Yet the fifth-seeded Inglis shored up her game, relentlessly attacking from the baseline while at the same time cutting down on her errors.

She levelled at 3-3, and with players continually trading service breaks, Inglis scored a valuable hold in the ninth game thanks to a forehand winner, taking a 5-4 lead.

Birrell’s level dropped following that shift in momentum, and she produced two errors and a double fault when serving to stay in the match, handing Inglis victory.

“I think I kept my composure pretty well, and that always helps me … I just kept at my game,” Inglis said of her approach during the tight third set.

“I’ve been in four semifinals in a row and I haven’t won one so I didn’t want to do what I’ve done before, so I went for it I guess.”

The winner of the final between Hives and Inglis is guaranteed a wildcard into the Australian Open Play-off field, a prospect that Inglis said had been a motivator all week.

Yet it will be a tough ask against Hives, a player aged two years older and who has dropped just six games in her past two matches.

“I played Zoe at the start of the year. I lost pretty easy, so I hope I can just compete well,” Inglis said.

> view the Australian 18-and-under Championships scores