Angelique Kerber wins Sydney, sets herself up for AusOpen

Ashleigh Barty plays a forehand against Daria Gavrilova at the Sydney International

Angelique Kerber wins Sydney, sets herself up for AusOpen

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.

Her Sydney campaign is strong preparation for next week's Australian Open in Melbourne, where she opens against world number 69 Aryna Sabalenka.

"I am playing unbelievable tennis again and feeling just great", Kerber said.

It was the first individual final since Monterrey in April last year for the 29-year-old left-hander, who won the Australian and U.S. Open titles in 2016.

"I felt like it was a pretty good level".

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

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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.

Having come into the tournament unseeded, the German saved match points against Lucie Safarova in her first round match, and she did not drop a set in her last three matches against Cibulkova, Camila Giorgi and Barty.

"I mean, where she was and where she is now, I think it's a huge step", Kerber said of Barty. A lot of tough players was playing here.

"So now, I just am trying to playing like I played years before and enjoying it again".

"It's incredible to see Angie back playing at her best", Barty said. I played some of my best tennis this week and it wasn't enough. But I'm feeling good - I'm healthy.

The other semi-final will be an all-Australian affair between Ashleigh Barty and Daria Gavrilova.

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"And Angie is on fire".

Barty praised Kerber as a player who "makes you work so hard for each point".

"There is nothing better than playing at home, playing in front of a home crowd".

"It would have been nice to get a win for them today but it was a hell of a week".

"We have set up a ideal platform for me to work with this year to try and go deep in tournaments, whether it's in Australia or in Europe or in the States".

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