Rain delay helps Harkleroad
By Dale Budge at the ASB Tennis Centre
A rain delay during her semifinal win over Marion Bartoli helped Ashley Harkleroad to overcome fatigue and qualify for the final of the ASB Classic on Friday.
Having lost the first set and being down a break midway through the second, Harkleroad looked down and out after a massive day on Thursday, where she had won two tough encounters in the humid conditions in Auckland.
But when play was halted as the rain fell on centre court, Harkleroad was able to gather her thoughts and conserve a bit of energy before bouncing back to win the second set.
The rain came a second time after the second set, stopping the match for just over an hour.
"I think it (the rain) helped me quite a bit. She was on a roll and my legs were kinda tired. The rain delay helped me get my thoughts together," she said following the match.
"Usually I don't like rain delays but today I did," she joked to reporters.
The 18-year-old seemed frustrated at times in the first set, letting out a loud scream at one point and, at 5-0 down, she must have had plenty of thoughts running through her head.
"I thought 'ok Ashley, get one game. Just work at one game at a time.' And I did."
Harkleroad put her slow start down to being tired after her huge day on Thursday and not being able to sleep the night before.
"It's kinda hard for your body to wind down after playing two matches," she explained.
So Harkleroad will play in her first WTA final on Saturday.
"I'm pretty excited about it. Hopefully I am just going to get some rest and get ready for tomorrow," she said.
"It would be an awesome thing to win this tournament because I do love it here.
"That's why I like it here so much. I have a lot of support here and it is fun playing in front of people that support you."
Her opponent in the final will be either defending champion Eleni Daniilidou or Paola Suarez, the top seed.
"Either one of them is going to be a hard match. They have proved themselves by being in the top 15," she admitted.
But one can't help but feeling that this has been her tournament so far and Saturday might just bring one more big match out of her.