Unlike five other players, she’s far and away from challenging for the No. 1 ranking next week during the Australian Open, but early in 2018, former No. 1 Angelique Kerber has shown she will be a contender for another title in Melbourne.
Kerber on Saturday captured the Sydney International title, stopping the run of homecountry favorite Ashleigh Barty 6-4, 6-4.
“I am playing amazing tennis again and feeling just great,” Kerber said following the final. “It feels very good to win my first title in my first tournament this 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.”
Kerber is the No. 21 seed next week in Melbourne.
In the Sydney final Kerber broke Barty in the first set at 2-2 after a double fault on break point by the Aussie. In the second set Kerber broke at 3-3 before running out the match for her first title since the 2016 US Open.
During the week she also defeated Venus Williams, Dominika Cibulkova and Camila Giorgi, coming into the event unseeded.
“I think the draw was really tough,” she said. “A lot of tough players was playing here. The draw was also not easy, but I was not seeded, so that was also what I was expecting from the beginning, to have really tough matches.”
The 21-year-old Barty fell to 1-3 in career finals, winning her lone title last year at Kuala Lumpur.
“It’s amazing to see Angie back playing at her best,” Barty said. “I played some of my best tennis this week and it wasn’t enough. Hopefully I can go bigger and better next week…Angie is on fire. She’s such a competitor and makes you work so hard for each point.
Kerber reached only one final last year, losing to Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Monterrey, Mexico. She improved to 11-16 in career finals, winning her second title in Australia after the 2016 Australian Open.
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