SYDNEY (Reuters) – Paula Badosa will head to the Australian Open high on confidence after beating French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova 6-3 4-6 7-6(4) in the final of the Sydney Tennis Classic on Saturday.
World number nine Badosa, who also beat Krejcikova en route to clinching the Indian Wells title last year, sealed victory in two hours 22 minutes.
The Spaniard, who sent down 12 aces on the way to claiming the third singles title of her career, said it was a close match that could have gone either way.
“Maybe one winner that I hit, one serve, maybe she missed one ball. Sometimes, these kind of matches, it’s one point or two. I had the same experience in the Indian Wells final… I think the good thing is I fought till the end,” Badosa told reporters.
Both players broke serve early on in the contest before Badosa won three games in a row to take the opening set 6-3.
Krejcikova pushed hard early in the second set to break but was unable to hold her lead as Badosa rallied to level at 3-3.
The Czech persevered and was rewarded with a break in the ninth game, going on to erase Badosa’s advantage and take the match into a decider.
The pair once again traded early breaks in the third set but neither was able to establish a clear advantage and a tie-break was required.
It was Badosa who raised her game when it mattered, taking advantage of a missed forehand from Krejcikova to convert her second championship point.
“She’s a very aggressive player… She opens very well the court, very talented. I tried to stick there, I tried to serve well, I tried to take my opportunities,” added Badosa.
Both players are back in action on Monday, with Badosa taking on local hope Ajla Tomljanovic in the first round of the Australian Open, while Krejcikova will face Germany’s Andrea Petkovic.
Badosa said she was hopeful about her prospects at the year’s first major, adding that she felt a sense of relief after Saturday’s title win.
“It gives me a lot of confidence, especially with the level I have played this week. Of course (I’m) tired… I will have to fly tonight, so let’s see how I recover. But I will try to give my best there… Let’s see. I’m looking forward to it.”
(Reporting by Aadi Nair and Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Hugh Lawson)