ASH Barty will need to become the first player to defeat Angelique Kerber in 2018 if she is to win the Sydney International.
Kerber, who began previous year as No 1 before finishing at No 22, continued her 2018 resurgence with a thumping 6-3, 6-1 win over Slovakia Dominika Cibulkova.
Barty, ranked nineteenth, cruised past Barbora Strycova 6-3, 6-2, while 25th-ranked Gavrilova had direct passage to the last four when Spain's Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza withdrew after her win over Kiki Bertens with a thigh injury.
"What she did in the a year ago, it's wonderful", Kerber said.
Nerves allowed both players to draw a break early in the match, however, Barty in particular had trouble on serve, holding just once on her way to losing the first set.
Elsewhere, Elise Mertens defended her Hobart International title after a 6-1 4-6 6-3 win over Mihaela Buzarnescu. "I played the last match of 2017 against her, so it was not so long ago". "It's just the beginning of the year, but I think I'm getting closer to my best the level again and just trying to focus from match to match and trying to play again my tennis like I played in the last years, especially 2016".
The title marked the 11th of her career but first since she won since the US Open in 2016.
"Being now in the semis again here, it's really a good feeling, especially that I had the goal, to have a lot of matches before going to Melbourne".
It was the first time an Australian woman featured in the Sydney International final since 2005 when Alicia Molik took the title over Sam Stosur.
"I shot myself in the foot with my serving in the first and didn't give myself an opportunity to be dominant on service games", Barty said. She's such a competitor and makes you work so hard for each point.
Barty said she would be ready for her Australian Open first round opponent Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
"It was a hell of a week, ideal preparation for next week", Barty said.