Kerber out to level ledger with Barty

By Emma Kemp, Emma Kemp is a Roar Guru

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    Angelique Kerber may be back but she still hasn’t forgotten her last loss of a rotten 2017 – because it came against Ashleigh Barty.

    Australia’s top-ranked female is standing between Kerber and the Sydney International title in Saturday’s final.

    The German former world number one is yet to be beaten in 2018.

    But it’s also only been two months since Barty last toppled her at their previous meeting in China.

    “Ash is a great player, she played unbelievable last year,” Kerber said.

    “I played the last match of 2017 against her, so it was not so long ago and I know what to expect.

    “I’m really trying not looking back on 2017. Of course the match against Ash or the matches in Zhuhai was not my best.”

    Barty’s straight-sets win at November’s WTA Elite Trophy symbolised the pair’s respective fortunes in 2017 which left Kerber, a stuttering two-time major champion, ranked below the rising Australian.

    Yet a lot can happen in a couple of months, and on Friday Kerber registered her eighth win in as many matches with a straight-sets semi-final victory over Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi.

    Barty, meanwhile, fought back from a set down to overcome compatriot Daria Gavrilova in the other semi.

    Her impending final appearance on Saturday – the first by an Australian in 13 years – ensures she will carry the weight of the nation’s expectation at next week’s Australian Open.

    “I love it, I really do,” Barty said.

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

    “Regardless of whether you’re number one, number ten, or number 100 in the world, it’s the best feeling for an Australian to be playing at the Australian Open.”

    Kerber aimed to continue riding her renewed on-court spirit.

    “I enjoy playing my tennis again. I’m fighting, and I think this is what counts,” Kerber said.

    “Being on court, having my heart on court and just being back like I played in 2016 and the years before.

    “I’m looking forward to the final. I will try to enjoy it but also going out and focusing on my game like I did in the last few days, and just trying (to be) aggressive and win another match here.”

    © AAP 2018

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