Burnie, Tasmania, 26 January 2019 | Asher Packman

Belinda Woolcock continues her eye-catching return to the game, reaching the Caterpillar Burnie International final with an enthralling win over Ekaterine Gorgodze on Saturday.

The Victorian qualifier – who only rejoined the professional circuit this month after nearly a year away with a significant knee injury – needed over two hours to dispose of the unseeded Georgian, 6-3 1-6 6-3.

“I’m just going with it,” Woolcock said after the match. “It’s definitely nice to be back out competing.”

Woolcock, 24, also qualified and made the second round at the ITF World Tennis Tour event in Playford in the New Year, but Sunday’s final will mark her first at the $60,000 level.

“It’s definitely the best result I’ve ever had, but the special part is just getting to play some top-ranked girls from all around the world. It’s been really good exposure, and it’s boosting my confidence,” she said.

Woolcock has claimed some notable scalps this week in Burnie including a straight sets victory over Queenslander Lizette Cabrera in the quarterfinals.

As to her immediate on-court success after her 11-month hiatus, Woolcock points to a change in mindset. “I think I’ve been doing well just sticking to what I know and not feeling like I have to do anything special – just remembering all the hard work I’ve done to get here.

“I’m just sticking to my patterns and keeping a nice, relaxed mentality out there. I’m just playing. I’m not overthinking anything. I’ve got nothing to lose, and even I do, I’m learning a lot from all these matches and continuing to improve.”

She faces sixth seed Paula Badosa Gilbert in Sunday’s final, after the Spaniard toppled her fellow countrywomen and top seed Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-4 6-1.

“I’ll just keep it simple tomorrow,“ Woolcock said. “Just go out there and do my best.”

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