Big Czech come­back spoils Barty party

Sunday Tasmanian - - Sport - JAMIE PANDARAM

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.

World No.8 Kvi­tova was trou­bled by in­jury, tap­ping her cramp­ing right thigh con­stantly, but bat­tled 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.”

Barty is still op­ti­mistic 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 ca- reer. 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.”

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