Former World No 1 Angelique Kerber continued her 2018 resurgence with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Ashleigh Barty in the Sydney International final on Saturday, giving herself a welcome boost ahead of next week's Australian Open.
The German two-time grand slam champion, currently ranked 22nd in the world after a disappointing 2017 campaign, registered her ninth win in as many matches this year with another clinical performance against the local favourite.
It was the first individual final since Monterrey in April last year for the 29-year-old left-hander, who won the Australian and US Open titles in 2016.
"Thanks to my team for believing in me and supporting me, we had an excellent week. I am really looking forward to the rest of the year," Kerber said in a court-side interview after claiming a first title since her US Open triumph.
"I am playing amazing tennis again and I am just feeling great."
After some tight early service games, Barty double-faulted to hand Kerber the first break and a 3-2 lead, and the German served out the opening set with little trouble.
The second set witnessed an early exchange of breaks before Kerber broke the Australian to love to move 4-3 ahead and picked up her 11th career title when Barty found the net after yet another powerful Kerber forehand.
Mertens defends Hobart title after edging rain-hit final
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 on 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 number 36 leading 5-2 in the third set.
"It rained like three of four times so I am really thankful everybody stayed actually," Mertens told reporters.
"It's been a wonderful week and to come back to Hobart is such a great feeling. My level was there during the whole week, so I'm really happy with the trophy."
The Romanian, a first-time WTA finalist, saved more championship points and held her serve when play resumed before the defending champion served out the match that lasted two hours and 29 minutes in total.
"I was really close," Buzarnescu said, upset with her high number of unforced errors.
"I should have been more patient, and not complain that much."
India's Ramkumar advances in Aus Open qualifiers
India’s Ramkumar Ramanathan won his second round qualifying match in straight sets, defeating France's Gleb Sakharov 6-4, 7-6 (12) at the Australian Open qualifiers in Melbourne on Saturday.
Ramkumar, seeded 28th, sealed the match by smashing an ace to advance to the third round. He made the best use of his serves, firing an impressive 17 aces in the tie that lasted close to two hours.
In the previous qualifier, Ramkumar, edged out American Bradley Klahn 6-7(8), 7-6(3), 6-2.