Kerber clinches Sydney title

Germany’s Angelique Kerber holds the Sydney International Trophy after beating Ashleigh Barty Saturday. — Reuters

SYDNEY — Angelique Kerber won her first title since the 2016 US 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 Saturday.

The 2016 Australian Open champion and former No. 1-ranked Kerber won four singles matches at the Hopman Cup, helping Germany to reach the final against Switzerland, and followed up with five wins in Sydney.

In a momentum-boosting buildup to the Australian Open, which starts Monday, Kerber had wins over Lucie Safarova, No. 2-seeded Venus Williams, former Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova and Camila Giorgi before beating Barty to claim her 11th career title.

“I am playing amazing tennis again and feeling just great,” Kerber said. “It feels very good to win my first title in my first tournament this year.

Kerber had a breakout season in 2016, beating Serena Williams in the final to claim her first major title at the Australian Open and going on to reach the Wimbledon final and win the US Open. She reached the No. 1 ranking in September that year and was seeded No. 1 for last year’s Australian Open, but was upset in the first round and her year-end ranking dropped to 21.

In the men’s final, Russian qualifier Daniil Medvedev beat 18-year-old Australian Alex de Minaur 1-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Bautista Agut beats Del Potro

Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut beat former champion Juan Martin de Potro 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 on Saturday to win the ATP Tour’s ASB Classic for the second time in three years.

Fifth-seed Bautista Agut, who won the title in 2016, outlasted second-seed Del Potro, the 2009 champion, in a match of remarkable highs and lows.

Later, an emotional Bautista Agut dedicated his victory to his family in Spain.

“It feels wonderful,” he said.

“Today I felt really good on the court and I played very good tennis throughout the match. Juan Martin is a great champion, he’s very tough to beat and I played two amazing games in the last two games of the match.”

Mertens defends Hobart title

Belgian Elise Mertens defeated Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 in a rain-interrupted final to defend her Hobart International title Saturday.

The second-seeded Mertens, who won her maiden singles title in Hobart last year as a qualifier, became the first player to win the tournament twice.

The match took more than seven hours to complete due to a delayed start and three suspensions of play for rain, the last coming after Buzarnescu had saved two match points with the 22-year-old world No. 36 leading 5-2 in the third set. — Agencies