Tennis roundup

Angelique Kerber celebrates her win over Ash Barty on Saturday in the women's final at the Sydney International in Australia. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Angelique Kerber celebrates her win over Ash Barty on Saturday in the women's final at the Sydney International in Australia. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Former No. 1 Kerber wins Sydney title

Angelique Kerber won her first title since the 2016 U.S. Open and extended her winning streak to nine matches with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Ashleigh Barty in the Sydney International final on Saturday at Australia.

The 2016 Australian Open champion and former No. 1-ranked Kerber won four singles matches at the Hopman Cup in Perth, Western Australia last week, helping Germany reach the final against Switzerland, and followed up with five wins in Sydney.

In a momentum-boosting buildup to the Australian Open, which starts Monday, Kerber had wins over Lucie Safarova, No. 2-seeded Venus Williams, former Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova and Camila Giorgi before beating Barty to claim her 11th career title.

"I am playing amazing tennis again and feeling just great," Kerber said. "It feels very good to win my first title in my first tournament this year.

Kerber had a breakout season in 2016, beating Serena Williams in the final to claim her first major title at the Australian Open and going on to reach the Wimbledon final and win the U.S. Open. She reached the No. 1 ranking in September that year and was seeded No. 1 for last year's Australian Open, but was upset in the first round and her year-end ranking dropped to 21.

After failing to win a title in 2017, the German left-hander is now feeling confident again ahead of the first Grand Slam tournament of the year.

"I have had a great week and the final was not easy against Ash but I was able to play my game in important moments. I feel like I am getting closer to my 2016 level."

In the men's final, Russian qualifier Daniil Medvedev beat 18-year-old Australian Alex de Minaur 1-6, 6-4, 7-5.

De Minaur has a wildcard entry to the Australian Open, where he'll open against 19th-seeded Tomas Berdych, the 2010 Wimbledon finalist and a two-time semifinalist at Melbourne Park.

Bautista wins ASB Classic

Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut beat former champion Juan Martin de Potro 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 to win the ATP Tour's ASB Classic for the second time in three years.

Fifth-seed Bautista Agut, who won the title in 2016, outlasted second-seed Del Potro, the 2009 champion, in a match of remarkable highs and lows.

The Spanish player swept through the first set in only 31 minutes as Del Potro seemed to struggle in warm conditions on a packed center court. But Del Potro took advantage of the only break point of the second set to level the match.

The advantage in the third set went one way then the other until Bautista Agut broke del Potro to lead 6-5, then saved a break point to win the match in 2 hours, 7 minutes.

Later, an emotional Bautista Agut dedicated his victory to his family in Spain.

"It feels wonderful," he said. "It was an unbelievable match today. I've been fighting a lot on the court and I couldn't believe I was playing my best tennis.

"Today I felt really good on the court and I played very good tennis throughout the match. Juan Martin is a great champion, he's very tough to beat and I played two amazing games in the last two games of the match."

Del Potro said he found it difficult to play in humid condition in the daytime Saturday after playing his previous matches at night.

"When I had to play in the sun it was very tough for me," del Potro said. "Roberto started very well. He moved so much better than me from the baseline.

"And then I think my game improved a little bit. I couldn't play any better but Roberto did well at the end of the match and I made some mistakes."

Del Potro had the first break point of the match in Bautista's opening service game, after a rally lasting 32 shots. He dropped serve in the next game, immediately broke back but lost his serve again in the fourth game to give Bautista a 3-1 lead. Bautista broke again in the sixth game to lead 5-1 and comfortably served out the set in a game including his seventh ace.

The second set was closer, with del Potro much more competitive. He struggled throughout the match to profit from his first serve but looked dangerous when able to hit his famous forehand while moving into the court.

The only break point chance came against Bautista in the 10th game and del Potro converted to take the set in 42 minutes.

The third set was similar, with no break point opportunities until the 11th game when Bautista Agut broke del Potro to go ahead 6-5. He again saved a break point before winning the set in 50 minutes.

Mertens defends Hobart title

Second-seeded Elise Mertens broke Mihaela Buzarnescu's serve in the opening game and went on to beat the Romanian 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 to win the Hobart International title for the second consecutive year.

The match started late due to rain and there were two lengthy stoppages during the match.

Buzarnescu was attempting to win her first WTA title at the age of 29.

 

 

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