Kvitova digs deep to outlast Barty in Sydney final
Sydney, Jan 12 (AFP) Petra Kvitova outlasted Ashleigh Barty in a final-set tiebreak to win the Sydney International for the second time on Saturday.
The Czech 2015 champion and fifth seed fought back from dropping the opening set and an early break in the final set to beat the top-ranked Aussie, 1-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/3) in two hours 19 minutes.
It was a gutsy performance from the two-time Wimbledon champion who only finished her semi-final against Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the early hours of Saturday.
Kvitova had beaten Barty both the previous times they played, including in the Birmingham final in 2017, but she had to dig deep to win her eighth straight final, coming back from an 0-3 deficit in the final set.
"I left everything out there. I was cramping in the end. It wasn't the best," Kvitova said.
"She's Aussie, so she used to these conditions. I played three times in the night, so for me it was totally different conditions, which from the beginning I feel very, very slow.
"So it just took me a while to get used to the rhythm and get back to the play.
"It was such a great final. It was a big fight until the end. That's the way a final should be." Kvitova prevailed despite her serve being broken six times in the match but she finished with 31 winners to Barty's 23.
Barty raced through the opening set after breaking the big-serving Kvitova in the first game on back-to-back double faults.
Kvitova began to hit her spots with her powerful groundstrokes in the second set and broke Barty for 6-5 and then served out the set in the next game with a backhand winner that clipped the back of the baseline on her second set point.
Barty broke early to lead 3-0 in the final set, but Kvitova broke back in the fifth game to level at 3-3.
Barty saved four break points in the ninth game but with the break in hand, Kvitova couldn't serve out the match.
She broke again in the 11th game but began to struggle physically and back-to-back double faults took the deciding set to a tiebreak.
The Czech fired a running cross-court forehand winner on match point to claim her 26th career title and a sixth WTA title in the past 12 months.
"Of course, it's tough to take. It's been a hell of a week. I mean, I couldn't have left anything more out on the court," Barty said.
"Petra came up with the goods when she needed it today. Sometimes when you play Petra, you have those matches where a lot of the time it's out of my control