Bernard Tomic faces Juan del Potro final test then Rafael Nadal awaits

Talented Bernard Tomic carries home hopes in Sydney final before Australian Open challenge.

Story highlights

  • Bernard Tomic to play Juan Martin del Potro in Sydney final
  • Defending champion Tomic beats Sergiy Stakhovsksy in last four
  • Del Potro eases past Dmitry Tursunov in other semifinal
  • Tsvetana Pirinkova wins maiden WTA title in Sydney

Bernard Tomic is facing two of the most important matches of his tennis career after reaching the final of the ATP tournament in Sydney Friday.

The talented 21-year-old from Australia faces Juan Martin del Potro as he defends the title he won last year.

If that was not a formidable enough challenge, Tomic's next match will be a first round Australian Open encounter with world number one Rafael Nadal in Melbourne.

Read: Bernard Tomic: Tennis' 'tainted' talent?

First he must focus on No.5 ranked and top seed del Potro, who eased into the title match with a 6-4 6-2 win over Dmitry Tursunov.

Tomic, by contrast, had to battle past qualifier Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-7 7-5 6-3 in two hours and 14 minutes.

Who will be the tennis ace of 2014?

    Just Watched

    Who will be the tennis ace of 2014?

Who will be the tennis ace of 2014? 04:52
PLAY VIDEO
Little girl takes on tennis giants

    Just Watched

    Little girl takes on tennis giants

Little girl takes on tennis giants 02:01
PLAY VIDEO
Is Murray ready for the Australian Open?

    Just Watched

    Is Murray ready for the Australian Open?

Is Murray ready for the Australian Open? 02:29
PLAY VIDEO
Serena Williams' inner circle

    Just Watched

    Serena Williams' inner circle

Serena Williams' inner circle 06:55
PLAY VIDEO

"The way I played here, I'm very happy," Tomic told the ATP official website.

"Tomorrow is going to be a difficult match. I've got to prepare as best as I can. Last time I played he beat me pretty comfortably, 6-3 6-3. I felt like I had chances in that match. "

Tomic won his first ATP Tour title in Sydney last year, but ranked 52nd has been unable to build on that victory.

Read: Novak Djokovic: All you need is love

On home courts, Tomic will be looking to deny del Potro his 18th ATP Tour title, but before he learned of his Nadal match up was talking up his chances against the elite of the world game in the opening slam of the season.

"You want to try and avoid the big guys, but if you're confident, if you're doing the right things, and you feel fit, why not playing them the first round or two?," he said.

"If that happens I have to play someone big, it's an opportunity."

Del Potro beat Tomic in their only previous encounter last year. "I'm glad with my level of play today.  I'm looking forward for the final of tomorrow," he said after beating Russia's Tursunov.

In the women's final in Sydney there was a big upset as Bulgarian qualifier Tsvetana Pironkova capped a stunning week with a straight sets victory over fifth seed Angelique Kerber of Germany.

Read: Venus and Clijsters sent packing in Wimbledon upsets

Pironkova, the world number 107, defeated her third top-ten ranked opponent of the week with a 6-4 6-4 victory.

She had previously beaten second seed Petra Kvitova after beating Italian third seed Sara Errani in the quarterfinals.

The 27-year-old, best known for reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon in 2010, was overcome with emotion after her title triumph, her first on the WTA circuit.

"This is something that I've been waiting for for so long and something that I've missed so much. Now that I finally have it, it's all surreal. I still cannot believe it, honestly," she said.

Pirinkova will face Spaniard Silvia Soler-Espinosa in the first round of the Australian Open and is in the same half of the draw as top seed Serena Williams.

Read: Clijsters cool on tennis comeback

      Tennis

    • Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.

      Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
    • LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and his long time girlfriend Kim Sears arrive at Buckingham Palace on October 17, in London, England. Murray will become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and receive his medal from the Duke of Cambridge. (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

      The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
    • Despite being forced to retire at the age of 24 due to health problems, Lacoste remained in the game and went on start the "Lacoste" brand in 1933, which specialised in tennis products. The inspiration for the company's logo came from his nickname as a player, "le crocodile."

      His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
    • Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

      Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
    • American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.

      Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
    • "I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
    • LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 03: Tennis / Frauen: Wimbledon 2004, London; Finale; Siegerin Maria SHARAPOVA / RUS 03.07.04. (Photo by Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images)

      It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
    • Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.