Big Czech comeback spoils 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.
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.”