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Angelique Kerber beat Ashleigh Barty 6-4 6-4 to win the Sydney International women’s singles in Sydney, Australia

Roberto Bautista Agut beat Juan Martin del Potro 6-1 4-6 7-5 to win the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand

Daniil Medvedev beat Alex de Minaur 1-6 6-4 7-5 to win the Sydney International men’s singles in Sydney, Australia

Elise Mertens beat Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-1 4-6 6-3 to win the Hobart International in Hobart, Australia



“I am playing amazing tennis again and feeling just great.” – Angelique Kerber, after winning her first title since the 2016 US Open.

“I played some of my best tennis this week and it wasn’t enough.” – Ashleigh Barty, after losing to Angelique Kerber in the Sydney International women’s final.

“I’m the kind of person the more emotions I feel, the less I show them, actually, especially if they are good ones.” – Daniil Medvedev, who won his first ATP World Tour title.

“It’s been a roller coaster, and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. I have enjoyed every second of it. It’s been a thrill, and I just want it to keep on going.” – Alex de Minaur, after reaching the Sydney International men’s singles final, losing to Daniil Medvedev.

“Today I felt really good on the court and I played very good tennis throughout the match. Juan Martin is a great champion, he’s very tough to beat and I played two amazing games in the last two games of the match.” – Roberto Bautista Agut, after being Juan Martin del Potro to win the ASB Classic.

“It rained like three or four times, so I am really thankful everybody stayed, actually.” – Elise Mertens, thanking the Hobart crowd after winning a rain-delayed final that lasted seven hours.

“I should have been more patient and not complain that much.” – Mihaela Buzarnescu, upset with her high number of unforced errors in her Hobart final loss to Elise Mertens.

“Even if it’s 100 percent healed, after six months of no competition you never know how you’re going to react.” – Novak Djokovic, seeking his seventh Australian Open title while playing in his first tournament since Wimbledon because of an elbow injury.



Former world number one Angelique Kerber won her first title in more than year when she defeated Ashleigh Barty to capture the Sydney International women’s singles. It was the German’s first title since she won the US Open in 2016 and her 11th career title. Counting the Hopman Cup exhibition, Kerber has now won eight consecutive matches to begin the season. “It feels very good to win my first title in my first tournament this year,” Kerber said. “I feel like I am getting closer to my 2016 level.” Her Australian opponent also was pleased with her play, despite the loss. “It would have been nice to get a win for them today,” Barty said of her home crowd, “but it was a hell of a week. Perfect preparation for next week (the Australian Open). I feel like if I play like that, I’ll probably beat most of the people in the draw.”



Daniil Medvedev had to work overtime, but he didn’t mind. The Russian qualifier won seven matches to win up with his first ATP Tour title at the Sydney International. Medvedev finished his off his victorious week with a three-set win over young Australian Alex de Minaur. “I’m really happy,” Medvedev said. “I mean, to make it through the quallies, there were so many circumstances.” At first it appeared Medvedev had run out of steam. He held to begin the match before de Minaur ripped off the next six games for the opening set. Medvedev leveled the contest by winning the second set and served for the match at 5-4 in the third. De Minaur, however, broke his Russian foe before the 18-year-old began to show signs of fatigue. Three years older, Medvedev used de Minaur’s errors to break right back, then served for the title again at 6-5. This time, he prevailed. It was the youngest ATP World Tour Final since Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic at the 2007 BNP Paribas Open.



Roberto Bautista Agut apparently didn’t get the message that Juan Martin del Potro was the better player. After all, del Potro reached the Auckland Classic final without dropping a set. His Spanish opponent, however, proved to be the better player this day. Bautista Agut dominated the opening set before del Potro rallied to capture the second. The two held serve in the final set until Bautista Agut broke at 5-5. He then served out the match. “It feels wonderful,” the winner said. “It was an unbelievable match today. I’ve been fighting a lot on the court and I couldn’t believe I was playing my best tennis.” Del Potro said he had problems playing in the humid condition in the daytime after playing his previous matches at night. “When I had to play in the sun it was very tough for me,” said del Potro, who still was pleased with his week. “It’s a good start of the year for me,” he said. “I didn’t expect to reach a final in my first tournament of the year, but I played well.”



Forget the rain delays, Hobart, Australia, is a very special place for Belgium’s Elise Mertens. Not only did she become the first player in history to win the Hobart International more than once, she also teamed with Demi Schuurs to capture the doubles crown as well. “My first title last year, and I think to repeat for a second title, I think I’m most proud of that for the consistency and to prove that I can win again,” said Mertens. The match took more than seven hours to complete, due to a delayed start and three suspensions of play for rain, the last after first-time WTA finalist Mihaela Buzarnescu had saved two match points. “It’s been a wonderful week and to come back to Hobart is such a great feeling,” Mertens said. “My level was there during the whole week, so I’m really happy with the trophy.”



Seeking his seventh Australian Open title, former world number one Novak Djokovic admits he’s still hurting as he begins the year’s first Grand Slam tournament. “It hasn’t been 100 percent yet healed,” Djokovic said of his right elbow. The right-hander hasn’t played competitively since Wimbledon last July. But he said doctors have convinced him that playing in the Australian Open will not cause more damage to the elbow. “Right now, it’s at a level where I can compete, and every day is getting better,” he said. “I’m hoping that it can be 100 percent at the start of the tournament. I don’t know how it’s going to behave.” Djokovic said the injury had been bothering him for about 18 months before the pain became too much. He played an exhibition match last week, defeating Austria’s Dominic Thiem in straight sets.



Max Mirnyi just keeps going. The 40-year-old Belarusian played in his 1,000th overall match win, counting singles and doubles, when he and partner Philipp Osward reached the final of the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand. Mirnyi has won 756 matches in doubles and 244 in singles. He didn’t add to his total however as he and Oswald fell to Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic in the final. In 1998, Mirnyi teamed with Serena Williams to win the mixed doubles at both Wimbledon and the US Open.



James Blake has been selected as the new tournament director of the Miami Open. Ranked as high as fourth in the world, Blake said: “As a player, I always loved playing in Miami and I am excited for the opportunity to take the tournament experience to a higher level for the players, sponsors and fans.” In announcing Blake’s selection, the tournament, in a release, said he will focus on player relations, media, broadcast as well as tournament improvements and innovations. This year’s Miami Open will be played on Key Biscayne, Florida, USA, from March 19 to April 1.



By capturing the Hobart International, Elise Mertens became the first winner of the new Angie Cunningham Trophy. The award was named in honor of the late Angie Cunning, who died in 2016 after a long battle with Motor Neurone Disease. Cunningham was ranked second in the world as a junior and reached the Australian Open and Wimbledon junior girls’ doubles finale. She competed in the first Hobart International in 1994 and later became the WTA Tour’s vice president of Player Relations and On-Site Operations. “To coincide with the 25th edition of our event, we felt there was no greater way to honor a legendary Tasmanian tennis identity who was respected globally,” tournament director Darren Sturgess said.



Billie Jean King has joined the call for Margaret Court’s name to be removed from one of Australian Open’s main venues. A trailblazer for equality and diversity in tennis, King said she had been a proponent for having Margaret Court Arena named in 2003 in recognition of the 24-time Grand Slam tournament singles winner’s contributions to the sport. But recently Court, now a minister, has made disparaging remarks about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. “I was fine until lately when she said so many derogatory things about my community – I’m a gay woman – about the LBGTIQ community,” King said. “That really went deep in my heart and soul.” King has been honored by having the US Open played at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City. But she said if she was still competing, she wouldn’t play on Margaret Court Arena nor would she promote a boycott of the stadium. “It’s really important if you’re going to have your name on anything that you’re hospitable, you’re inclusive, you open your arms to everyone that comes,” King said. “It’s a public facility.”



Auckland: Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic beat Max Mirnyi and Philipp Osward 6-4 5-7 10-7 (match tiebreak)

Hobart: Elise Mertens and Demi Schuurs beat Lyudmyla Kichenok and Makoto Ninomiya 6-2 6-2

Sydney (men): Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo beat Jan-Lennard Struff and Viktor Troicki 6-3 6-4 

Sydney (women): Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yifan beat Latisha Chan and Andrea Sestini Hlavackov 6-3 6-1



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Randy Walker is a communications and marketing specialist, writer, tennis historian and the managing partner of New Chapter Media – www.NewChapterMedia.com. He was a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s marketing and communications division where he worked as the press officer for 22 U.S. Davis Cup ties, three Olympic tennis teams and was an integral part of USTA media services team for 14 US Opens. He is the author of the books ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY and THE DAYS OF ROGER FEDERER

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