Sydney final ideal prep for Open: Barty

Ashleigh Barty

Barty, Australia's top-ranked women's player at number 19 in the world, will compete for just her second career title after beating Gavrilova 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in their semi-final on Ken Roswell Arena.

Ashleigh Barty has described her dream run into the Sydney International final as the flawless preparation for next week's Australian Open grand slam.

Barty held just once in the first set but reversed the momentum in the second when she broke in the ninth game after Gavrilova double faulted twice, which prompted the 23-year-old to smash her racquet in frustration and earn a code violation.

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.

Kerber started the first set stronger and looked to have Williams's measure with a 5-3 lead and two set points before the world number five rallied. "Still, I'm just trying to focus on every match, trying to learn from every single match", Kerber said.

The two-time Grand Slam champion remains unbeaten in six matches this year following last week's Hopman Cup mixed-teams campaign in Perth and now meets Dominika Cibulkova in Thursday's quarter-final.

Kerber, who knocked out Venus Williams in her opening match in Sydney, said she was not yet back to her best form of 2016 when she won the Australian and US Opens.

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"I'm still able to win tennis matches". "I love playing in Australia, I love playing at home".

The victor of that match will definitely face an Australian in the final, with Ashleigh Barty and Daria Gavrilova battling it out to carry the hopes of the home crowd.

"It's nice getting a bit of confidence going into our biggest tournament for us", Barty said of next week's Australian Open.

Defending champion Gilles Muller was knocked out of the Sydney International men's event by unseeded Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-4, 6-4.

The world No.25 won 68 per cent of points when she nailed her first serve, but continually left the gate open for Barty to pounce when required to send down a second.

Italian fourth seed Fabio Fognini set up a semi-final against qualifier Daniil Medvedev following a 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (7-4), 6-2 marathon against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

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