January 13, 2018 / 8:22 AM / 7 months ago

Kerber issues Australian Open warning with Sydney triumph

SYDNEY (Reuters) - 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 on Saturday, giving herself a welcome boost ahead of next week’s Australian Open.

Tennis - Sydney International - Sydney Olympic Park, Sydney, Australia, January 13, 2018. Germany's Angelique Kerber kisses the trophy after winning the Women's final against Australia's Ashleigh Barty. REUTERS/Steve Christo

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 favorite.

Tennis - Sydney International - Sydney Olympic Park, Sydney, Australia, January 13, 2018. Germany's Angelique Kerber celebrates winning the Women's final against Australia's Ashleigh Barty. REUTERS/Steve Christo

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

“Thanks to my team for believing in me and supporting me, we had an excellent week. I am really looking forward to the rest of the year,” Kerber said in a court-side interview after claiming a first title since her U.S. Open triumph.

“I am playing amazing tennis again and I am just feeling great.”

Slideshow (3 Images)

After some tight early service games, Barty double-faulted 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.

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by John O'Brien

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