Gutsy Demon irked by draw
Big Czech spoils the Barty party
IT looked a done deal after 26 minutes, but Ash Barty lost her dream of claiming the last Sydney International title after an epic three-set battle against champion Petra Kvitova.
Barty had hoped to end a 13year drought to become the first Australian woman since Alicia Molik in 2005 to win the Sydney International — to be replaced next year with the ATP Cup — but Kvitova mounted a phenomenal comeback to win 1-6 7-5 7-6 (7-3) in two hours and 19 minutes.
Kvitova, the world No.8, was clearly troubled by injury, tapping her cramping right thigh constantly, but battled her way to a second Sydney title having won here at Ken Rosewall Arena in 2015.
“It’s tough to take,” said Barty, who lost last year’s Sydney final to Angelique Kerber.
“It’s hard to put in words at the moment, but it’s been a hell of a week. I couldn’t have left anything more out on the court.
“Petra came up with the goods when she needed it today. Sometimes when you play Petra, you have those matches where a lot of the time it’s out of my control.
“She had the courage and she was brave in that buster (tie-break) in particular to take the game on, and she deserved to win.
“I noticed towards the end she looked like she was gassed a little bit and took a few more risks and they paid off for her today.
“I have to tip my cap to her. I have had an amazing start to 2019 and probably three or four points shy of being exceptional, really.”
Despite defeat, Barty is full of optimism for her Australian Open campaign.
“I’m a different player than I was 12 months ago, I feel like I’m a much better player, I’m a more complete player,” Barty said.
“Certainly with a week like this, I have had probably one of the best weeks of my career. I feel like I’m playing great tennis. Yes, it’s a bitter pill to swallow tonight, but we move on, we keep working, and we have a slam to look forward to in a couple days’ time.”
This result seemed impossible after the first set, when Barty swept the floor.
“It was such an amazing final,” Kvitova said. “I was very slow from the beginning. I’m just happy I found a way to win it with some nerves and cramping. It was a long one.” A FURIOUS Alex de Minaur has slammed Australian Open organisers for scheduling his opening match two days after he was forced to play back-toback finals in searing heat.
De Minaur’s Sydney International semi-final against Gilles Simon was postponed at 11pm on Friday due to heavy rain, and moved to noon yesterday, meaning he had to play the semi and then back up in the final hours later.
Unfortunately, he encountered the hottest conditions of the week yesterday, with temperatures soaring to 34C.
Nevertheless, de Minaur blitzed through Simon 6-3 6-2 to earn his place in a second successive Sydney final, before downing Italy’s Andreas Seppi 7-5 7-6 (7-5) five hours later.
The victory made him the youngest winner of the tournament since Lleyton Hewitt also did it as a 19-year-old in 2001.
But de Minaur said playing twice in one day meant he deserved a rest before the Open.
“What’s more annoying is me having to play on Monday at the Australian Open and not getting helped out as
a fellow Aussie at your home slam,” de Minaur said.
“I think they’re punishing Aussies for playing deep in their home tournaments, and I think that should not be what they should be doing.”
Asked if he’d requested a postponement from Tennis Australia of his first-round match in Melbourne against Portugal’s Pedro Sousa, de Minaur replied: “Yeah, I mean they came out with the schedule before they even saw the halves or saw who was in the finals the week prior. “I think that’s pretty poor.” De Minaur’s campaign is essentially being hampered by his success in Sydney, and there is a possibility that had this not been his home tournament, the teenager could have pulled out to give himself a better preparation for Melbourne.
“It was quite hot out there,” de Minaur said. “It was pretty brutal conditions. It’s probably the hottest day we’ve had, very humid as well. Long rallies, pretty taxing, but this is what I do the hard work for, to go out there and back it up.”
De Minaur’s draw in Melbourne has him in line to play Rafael Nadal if both win.
Australian Alex de Minaur makes it third time lucky by winning the Sydney International final 7-5 7-6 (7-5) against Italian Andreas Seppi last night. Picture: AP