Melbourne, VIC, 14 December 2019 | Matt Trollope

Arina Rodionova stormed through the third set of her semifinal against Belinda Woolcock to take her place in Sunday’s Australian Open Play-off final.

Rodionova’s 6-2 4-6 6-2 win over Woolcock sets up a final against Storm Sanders, who beat Abbie Myers 7-6(1) 6-2 in the second semifinal at Melbourne Park.

“It’s pretty cool to be in the final, this is my best result here at the AO Play-off,” said Sanders.
“I’ve played three pretty tough matches and to get the win today was great. Abbie came out firing, she was serving and hitting the ball really well so I just had to match that, and I’m really happy to get the win today.”

It is the third time Rodionova has reached the Play-off final; in December 2014 she fell to Daria Gavrilova and in December 2016 Maddison Inglis emerged victorious.

“I’ll just see who’s going to win and take it from there,” Rodionova told reporters as to how she was approaching the final.

“To be honest I don’t really think about it — I just take one match at a time. It’s just a tennis match at the end of the day; win or lose I’m going to compete at the Australian Open, (either) main draw or qualifying.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 14: Abbie Myers of New South Wales plays a forehand in her Woman's Singles 2019 Australian Open Wildcard Play-Off Semi-Final match against Storm Sanders of Western Australia at Melbourne Park on December 14, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mike Owen/Getty Images for Tennis Australia)

“That’s everyone’s goal and it’s a great opportunity. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Rodionova started strongly against seventh seed Woolcock, who swung the momentum back in her favour in the second set with some crushing forehand blows.

Yet she was more erratic than Rodionova, who seized the initiative in the final set by taking her shots early and having success coming in behind them.

“It’s always nice to have a good, solid finish. I think I worked pretty hard in the third set … really didn’t play my best tennis unfortunately but I’m just glad I could turn it around and get back on track in the third,” she assessed.

“She does hit a decent ball but I don’t think it’s very consistent … that was my game plan basically, I just wanted to make her play one extra shot.”

Sanders is through to the final in just her fourth tournament into a singles comeback after a two-year break.

“I’m really excited to being playing off against Arina for an Australian Open wildcard,” she added.
“It’s going to be a tough match, we are both going to give it everything.
“It feels great to be out here playing well.
“Even when I was playing doubles throughout the year, I had so many people telling me I should try and play singles, and I think having the time off really put things into perspective.
“I’ve come back and I’m just enjoying playing tennis and not trying to put any pressure on myself.”