Barty downs Gavrilova to reach final By

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.

This was Kerber's first title since lifting the US Open crown in 2016 - the same year she triumphed at the Australian Open when lifting her maiden grand slam title.

Barty, ranked nineteenth, cruised past Barbora Strycova 6-3, 6-2, while 25th-ranked Gavrilova had direct passage to the last four when Spain's Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza withdrew after her win over Kiki Bertens with a thigh injury.

"Ash is a great player, she played unbelievable a year ago", Kerber said.

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Kerber drops just two sets throughout her week in Sydney.

Now, the German tennis star kicks off her 2018 WTA Tour with a title win at the Sydney International.

"She will have a great 2018, I'm very sure about this". 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.

"Regardless whether you're number one, number 10, or number 100 in the world, it's the best feeling for an Australian to be playing at the Australian Open".

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Kerber claimed the first break of the match for a 3-2 lead, an advantage she would not relinquish as she went on to take the opening set.

"In my eyes, she has just as big a chance as anyone else, she's obviously won the title and knows what it takes", Barty said. "I think I will try to enjoy it, as well, but also going out, focusing on my game like I did it in the last few days, and just trying [to be] aggressive and trying to win another match here". She's such a competitor and makes you work so hard for each point. "I certainly felt like it was a pretty good level for a final".

"I shot myself in the foot with my serving in the first and didn't give myself an opportunity to be dominant on service games", Barty said.

Barty said she would be ready for her Australian Open first round opponent Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

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"But we will head to Melbourne tonight and do what we need to do over the next couple of days to get ready".