Toowoomba QLD, Australia, 6 October 2017 | David Packman

Queenslander Jason Kubler is continuing to show good signs in his return to the Australian Pro Tour after he defeated Dutch qualifier Sem Verbeek to reach the semifinals at the Hutchinson Builders Toowoomba International on Friday.

“I’m happy to finally be where I want to be after all the hard work,” Kubler, 24, said. “Last week gave me a lot of confidence (in Brisbane) and I thought maybe if I just work on a few things I can play well again, so coming here I felt pretty comfortable.”

With his longstanding injury concerns behind him for the moment, Kubler feels his focus is finally returning to where it matters most. “It’s nice now that my attention is just on the opponent and trying to win,” he said.

After taking the first set against Verbeek, Kubler was forced to work hard in the second, dropping it in a tiebreaker, before rebounding to take the decider without the loss of a single game.

“He started making a lot of first serves and made it really difficult for me to get into the point,” he said. “But I made a couple of changes before the third set and then got a break early.

“It just snowballed from there and I was pretty happy with that.”

The 6-4 6-7(5) 6-0 victory now sees Kubler face No.3 seed Dayne Kelly for a place in the final. The Victorian came back strongly in his quarterfinal against qualifier Calum Puttergill after dropping the first set.

“I’ve never played against Dayne before,” Kubler said of the world No.284. “He’s obviously got a good level and it’s going to be a good match.

“I’m genuinely excited to get the chance to put it all out there and see what happens.”

The remaining semifinal will see in-form Andrew Harris – a semifinalist in Brisbane last week – take on No.5 seed Maverick Banes, who has lit up the current Australian Pro Tour thus far after taking the title in Alice Springs and also reaching the last four in Brisbane.

Harris posted a straight sets win over Brisbane runner-up Ben Mitchell while Banes defeated fellow Queenslander Gavin Van Peperzeel in similar fashion.

In the women’s event, Ellen Perez continued her momentum, but only after edging out Alison Bai in a final set tiebreaker on Friday. She will now play Japan’s second seed Eri Hozumi for a place in the final.

Fellow Aussie Astra Sharma is enjoying a breakout week in Toowoomba after taking out Brisbane winner Kimberley Birrell and Penrith winner Olivia Rogowska in consecutive matches before her 6-4 6-3 victory over Japanese No.5 seed Erika Sema on Friday. Sharma, 22, now meets Abigail Tere-Apisah of Papua New Guinea in her maiden Australian Pro Tour semifinal.

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