Barty's blitz in Birmingham
ASHLEIGH Barty will ride a huge wave of confidence on Sunday night (AEST) when she attempts to land her second clean sweep of an increasingly memorable comeback.
The Queenslander charged past French Open winner Garbine Muguruza 3-6 6-4 6-3 to advance to the Birmingham Classic final, claiming her first top-20 triumph in the process.
And, to cap off an incredible tournament for Barty, she will partner Casey Dellacqua in the doubles final against Hao-ching and Chan Shuai Zhang.
It is barely a year since the Queenslander resumed in singles after playing cricket for the Brisbane Heat in the Women's Big Bash League.
Unranked this time last season, Barty has surged to a career-high provisional mark of No.53 - and will climb higher if she defeats dual Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the Birmingham final.
Victorious over Czech Barbora Strycova in the second round, Barty will contest her maiden Premier Level tournament final.
The talented right-hander landed the Kuala Lumpur singles and doubles crowns in February - and is hankering for more of the same.
"It was just nice to get a couple of good matches and it's nice to be able to come up against top players leading into a slam (Wimbledon) and try and test myself against the world's best," Barty said.
"But I'm feeling confident, we've had a lot of grasscourt tennis now coming into Wimbledon, so hopefully we can play well tomorrow and transfer that through Eastbourne, and of course, Wimbledon.
"Yeah, I think it was important for us to take it step by step, and we've been getting better results the more we've played and the more we've gone on this year.
"So it's really exciting. And to get a first top-20 win is pretty cool leading into Wimbledon. Yeah, we're just really excited where we're at."
One of the most naturally gifted players on tour, Barty had never previously toppled a top-20 opponent until bowling over world No.14 Muguruza, who has been as high as No.2.
Barty is the first Australian to contest the title match in Birmingham since Jenny Byrne lost the 1992 decider to Holland's Brenda Schultz.
Kvitova advanced when Lucie Safarova retired with a right leg injury when trailing 6-1 1-0.
Barty is guaranteed at least $105,000 and could earn as much as $200,000 if she beats Kvitova.
Barty won the Wimbledon junior singles in 2011 as a 15-year-old.
She stepped away from tennis in 2014 because of motivational issues and said her time in cricket helped lay the foundation for her current rise.