15 January, 2018
Angelique Kerber won her first title since the 2016 U.S. Open and extended her winning streak to nine matches to start the season with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Ashleigh Barty in the Sydney International final on Saturday.
The German made her breakthrough in 2016, with wins at the Australian Open and Flushing Meadows, but struggled previous year, falling to 22nd in the world.
It was Kerber's second win over the 19th-ranked Barty in three meetings.
Kerber, who began last year as No.1 before finishing at No.22, continued her 2018 resurgence and remains unbeaten this year.
Kerber, who began past year at the top of the rankings before finishing at No. 22, won her seventh straight match of 2018, including four singles at the Hopman Cup last week.
"She will have a great 2018, I'm very sure about this".
It is her 11th career WTA title and positions her as one of the favourites for the Australian Open. It's more about me playing matches the right way and doing the right things on and off the court to try and get the results, and to be able to have that No.1 ranking is a bonus.
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Having defeated such class opposition will provide Kerber with great confidence tonight, and Barty will have to produce her best tennis to stop the German in her tracks.
Barty was in further trouble when she immediately surrendered serve in the second set, but in the second game she broke back to level at 1-1, igniting the home crowd.
"It's nice to make a final at home, but I think in my eyes it's flawless preparation for next week", said Barty, the first Australian woman in a Sydney final since Alicia Molik defeated Sam Stosur in 2005. "I think even though it may not be ideal at the moment, it's still good enough to win matches". She's such a competitor and makes you work so hard for each point.
"I certainly shot myself in the foot with my serve today", she said.
Kerber has been drawn to face fellow German Anna-Lena Friedsam in the Australian Open first round, while Barty plays Aryna Sabalenka.
"I'm drawn to play on Tuesday so the preparation is slightly different as if I was playing on Monday", Barty said.