Cameron Norrie has a shot at a fifth career ATP Final after a relatively comfortable last-four victory at the ASB Classic in Auckland.
But Jack Draper’s hopes of a first career title on the main tour were dashed in a tight semi-final encounter at the Adelaide International 2.
Norrie has had a perfect start to 2023 and goes into Saturday’s final against France’s Richard Gasquet, who had a walkover in his semi-final, with six victories from six so far this year.
And the world no12 will be favourite to add to his previous four titles following a 6-3, 6-4 win over American Jenson Brooksby.
Playing in his former home city where he grew up, Norrie said: “It was an absolute battle with Jenson, a lot of long rallies and I know how well he competes so it was nice to get it done in straight sets. I was able to serve it out and stay really calm and get over the line.”
Norrie needed six break points before eventually cracking the Brooksby serve in the opening set. The Briton was himself broken at the start of the second set to fall 2-0 down but broke back to love and survived further break points at 2-3. He saved those in a run of 11 consecutive won points from which he never looked back.
There was hardly anything to separate Draper, who is expected to rise to a career-high 38th in the world in the revised ATP rankings on Monday, and Kwon Soon-woo in their encounter in Adelaide.
For the duration, it proved a match of attacking intent from both players but the South Korean’s greater experience proved the difference in a 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 win.
The opening set could have gone either way, Kwon edging the tiebreak 8-6 and, in return, Draper dominating the second-set decider 7-2.
The end of the second set was the first time that his opponent wobbled, his heavy groundstrokes more wayward and he was slightly nervy on serve.
It looked to have swung the momentum Draper’s way but the British No3 twice double -faulted to be broken in the opening service game of the third set.
He grew increasingly frustrated as the match slipped from his grasp, remonstrating at the umpire at one point for disallowing a challenge to a tight line call.
Draper was left to rue only converting one of 10 break points and will need to be more clinical in his first-round match against Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open.