Brisbane (Australia) (AFP)
Alize Cornet reached her biggest final in over two years after an "exhausted" Garbine Muguruza withdrew from their semi-final of the Brisbane International on Friday.
The unseeded Frenchwoman was leading her Spanish opponent 4-1 in the first set when Muguruza decided she couldn't continue.
Although the official reason was a right thigh injury, the fourth seeded Spaniard, who had spent over seven hours on court in her first three rounds, conceded later that she was physically spent.
"I just felt, like, a little bit exhausted on the court, and I have been dealing, you know, with tiredness and issues with all these hard matches I have been playing, and today I was far from 100 percent," she said.
Cornet will now play third seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova in the final, the first time the 26-year-old from Nice has reached the decider of a Premier Level tournament since she lost to Venus Williams in Dubai in 2014, after having beaten Serena in the semi-finals.
A delighted Cornet said Muguruza's withdrawal had been the perfect result.
"When she decided to stop I was a little bit surprised, but you know a little bit of luck never killed anybody," she laughed.
"I'm just going to take it. I really enjoy the fact that I'm in the final. It's a big day for me.
"I just learned that I'm going to be seeded at the Australian Open because of this match. So it's two bits of good news at the same time."
Cornet went into the tournament ranked 41st in the world, but will now climb to 31.
She could go as high as 26 if she wins Saturday's final.
The 26-year-old said earlier in the week she wanted to be more consistent this year and enjoy her tennis.
After winning her semi-final she signed "Vive la Vie" on the television as a dedication to former French Fed Cup physio Patrick Bordier, who died of a heart attack while working at the Rio Olympics.
"There is no translation in English. It's like 'enjoy life'," she said.
"(He) was always saying this sentence, just to put a smile on our faces, like, okay, 'vive la vie. Enjoy. You have a beautiful life, you're young, just enjoy'.
"I think of him sometimes on the court."
Pliskova, who was runner-up at the 2016 US Open, reached the final in impressive style when she beat Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 6-2, 6-4 in the second semi.
The tall Czech used her booming serve and powerful groundstrokes to great effect in the 64-minute victory.
"I'm really satisfied with the way I played tonight," she said.
"I was serving well and maybe she was a little bit tired from her previous match (against world number one Angelique Kerber)."
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