Kerber’s come­back con­tin­ues in Syd­ney

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - RACING -

FOR­MER world num­ber one An­gelique Kerber con­tin­ued her 2018 resur­gence with a 6-4 6-4 win over Ash­leigh Barty in the Syd­ney In­ter­na­tional fi­nal yes­ter­day, giv­ing her­self a wel­come boost ahead of next week’s Australian Open.

The Ger­man two-time grand slam cham­pion, cur­rently ranked 22nd in the world af­ter a dis­ap­point­ing 2017 cam­paign, reg­is­tered her ninth win in as many matches this year with an­other clin­i­cal per­for­mance against the lo­cal favourite.

It was the first in­di­vid­ual fi­nal since Mon­ter­rey in April last year for the 29-year-old left-han­der (pic­tured), who won the Australian and US Open ti­tles in 2016.

Af­ter some tight early ser­vice games, Barty dou­ble­faulted to hand Kerber the first break and a 3-2 lead, and the Ger­man served out the open­ing set with lit­tle trou­ble.

The sec­ond set wit­nessed an early ex­change of breaks be­fore Kerber broke the Australian to love to move 4-3 ahead and picked up her 11th ca­reer ti­tle when Barty found the net af­ter yet an­other pow­er­ful Kerber fore­hand.

In the men’s draw, Rus­sian qual­i­fier Daniil Medvedev ral­lied to de­feat 18-year-old Australian Alex de Min­aur 1-6 6-4 7-5 in the fi­nal.

De Min­aur, ranked 167 in the world and the youngest player to reach an ATP World Tour fi­nal since Amer­i­can Tay­lor Fritz at Memphis in 2016, showed im­pres­sive fight­ing spirit to re­cover from 4-0 down in the de­cider to level the third set at 5-5.

How­ever, Medvedev halted his charge with a break of serve in the 11th game be­fore hold­ing to love to claim his first ATP ti­tle.

Bel­gian Elise Mertens de­feated Mi­haela Buzarnescu of Ro­ma­nia 6-1 4-6 6-3 in a rain-in­ter­rupted fi­nal to de­fend her Ho­bart In­ter­na­tional ti­tle.

The sec­ond-seeded Mertens, who won her maiden sin­gles ti­tle in Ho­bart last year as a qual­i­fier, be­came the first player to win the tour­na­ment twice.

The match took more than seven hours to com­plete due to a de­layed start and three suspensions of play for rain, the last com­ing af­ter Buzarnescu had saved two match points with the 22-year-old world num­ber 36 lead­ing 5-2 in the third set.

“It rained like three of four times so I am re­ally thank­ful ev­ery­body stayed ac­tu­ally,” Mertens told re­porters.

“It’s been a won­der­ful week and to come back to Ho­bart is such a great feel­ing.

"My level was there dur­ing the whole week, so I’m re­ally happy with the tro­phy.”

The Ro­ma­nian, a first-time WTA fi­nal­ist, saved more cham­pi­onship points and held her serve when play re­sumed be­fore the de­fend­ing cham­pion served out the match that lasted two hours and 29 min­utes in to­tal.

“I was re­ally close,” Buzarnescu said, up­set with her high num­ber of un­forced er­rors.

“I should have been more pa­tient, and not com­plain that much.” – Reuters

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