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Busta on top in Kooyong; Barty, Kerber in Sydney final
January 13, 2018
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Melbourne: Pablo Carreno Busta beat approaching wet weather to conclude his buildup to the Australian Open with a 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 6-2 defeat of Matthew Ebden in the final of the Kooyong Classic in Melbourne on Friday.

Carreno Busta, the second Spaniard to win the event after two titles from Fernando Verdasco, staged a steady fightback to overhaul the 76th-ranked Ebden, who stands second on Australia’s national list behind Nick Kyrgios.

Ebden, who sat out half of 2016 with a knee injury, spent much of last season on the lower-level Challenger series and starts the Australian Open against 16th seed John Isner.

Tenth seed Carreno Busta faces another Australian at Melbourne Park, playing Jason Kubler.

The final at the long-time former home of the Australian Open was played under leaden skies in heavy humidity and rain coming in from the west.

It ended just as light drops began to fall and the trophy presentation ceremony was held with the protagonists sheltered under umbrellas.

The finalists qualified for the title match after beating the highest-ranked players in the first round, with Richard Gasquet deciding that two matches were sufficient for his Open preparation.

Ebden said he was disappointed after failing to hold his lead, but was still pleased with his week on court.

Belinda Bencic of Switzerland lifted the women’s title 3-6, 6-4, 10-4 (tiebreak set) to beat Andrea Petkovic in a rain-interrupted final lasting just under 90 minutes.

Petkovic, long the tennis entertainer, kept things lively during a weather pause on court, dancing to music piped over the stadium PA system and even getting a match official involved.

Bencic added Kooyong success to the Hopman Cup she won a week ago alongside Swiss teammate Roger Federer.

Kerber beats Giorgi

Germany’s former world No.1 Angelique Kerber won her eighth consecutive match on Friday and will play Australian Ashleigh Barty in the final of the Sydney International.

Kerber, who began last year as No.1 before finishing at No.22, continued her 2018 resurgence with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Camila Giorgi, ending the Italian qualifier’s run of six wins in the tournament.

Barty will play in her first home WTA final on Saturday after she beat compatriot Daria Gavrilova 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

It will be the 19th-ranked Barty’s second career title and her win over the 25th-ranked Gavrilova came after a topsy-turvy match that included 11 breaks of serve.

Meanwhile, Russian qualifier Daniil Medvedev upset Italian fourth seed Fabio Fognini 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 to reach the Sydney men’s final. The 84th-ranked Medvedev came back from a set down to move within one win of what would be his maiden ATP title against rising Australian star Alex de Minaur.

Eighteen year old de Minaur continued his extraordinary run of results in the lead-up to the Australian Open with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 win over Frenchman Benoit Paire.

Del Potro, Agut face off

Juan Martin del Potro overcame a stubborn challenge from David Ferrer to clinch their semi-final 6-4 6-4 and advance to a title showdown against Roberto Bautista Agut in the Auckland Classic on Friday.

Del Potro, who sealed the Auckland title in 2009, shone in the key moments and fought off six of the seven break points Ferrer forged in a tense clash, with two games in the second set lasting almost 10 minutes apiece.

The Argentine’s massive forehand, however, was the major defining factor in the match as he worked himself into a position to drive winner after winner past the Spaniard and clinched the semi-final in one hour, 46 minutes.

Earlier, fifth seed Bautista Agut outlasted Dutchman Robin Haase in an epic clash that took almost three hours before the Spaniard produced an audacious backhand lob that kissed the baseline to clinch the 6-7(7) 7-6(3) 7-6(5) win.

Mertens reaches final

Defending champion Elise Mertens of Belgium reached the Hobart International final with a 6-4 1-6 6-2 win over British qualifier Heather Watson on Friday.

The second-seeded Mertens recovered from a second-set lapse to edge out Watson, who won the tournament in 2015, in one hour and 42 minutes.

Agencies

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