After seven consecutive appearances at the ASB Classic, Germany's Julia Goerges is more than familiar with the Auckland tournament. But today she ventures into unfamiliar territory after booking her place in the final for the first time.
Goerges, the world No 50, yesterday ended Austrian qualifier Tamira Paszek's giant-killing run, posting a swift 6-4, 6-2 win between showers in central Auckland.
Goerges' previous best result in Auckand was a semifinal in 2011, when she lost to eventual champion Greta Arn of Hungary. That result kicked off a strong couple of years for the German, who reached a career-high ranking of 15 in March 2012.
But the last couple of seasons could best be described as lean for Goerges, who has not reached a WTA Tour final in nearly four years.
The last title Goerges won was in Stuttgart in 2011 and her last WTA finals were in Dubai and Linz in 2012.
So it was a mixture of elation and relief for Goerges when she sealed yesterday's semifinal victory in 66 minutes.
"I must say it feels very good to be in a final again after such a long time," said Goerges.
Many of her friends and family back in Germany were unable to see her breakthrough win, however, with a technical hitch with the livestreaming preventing them from viewing the match. Instead, they were restricted to watching the points clocked over in the live-scoring.
"The livestreaming was not working so my parents did not find it very exciting watching the live-scoring. But they are very happy for me. I have not spoken to them too much as I have not talked to them a lot during the week and they get superstitious," said Goerges.
The 27 year-old said she approached the match with aggression with the aim of securing early momentum and deflating Paszek.
A former top-30 player who began the year at No 172, Paszek was playing her seventh match in seven days, including two long three-setters. She faded noticeably in the second set, during which she needed treatment on her lower back.
"It makes it tougher when you lose the first set and it really takes the energy away when you know you have to go two more, so I was trying to really take it to her in the first set," said Goerges.
Having taken little time to dispatch Paszek, Goerges will head into today's final well-rested, unlike her eventual opponent Caroline Wozniacki or Sloane Stephens, who were forced to endure lengthy weather delays before taking the court late last night.
"It ended up working quite well for me because it is raining again now so I am very happy that I am through," said Goerges.
"It's nice to be done and be able to recover properly and do your treatment and things but I don't see it as an advantage. Both players are very fit."