Sun, Jan 07, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Svitolina sends Australian Open warning with win


Elina Svitolina of Ukraine celebrates beating Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus yesterday in the Brisbane International women’s singles final at the Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane, Australia.

Photo: AFP

Ukrainian Elina Svitolina yesterday got the perfect boost ahead of the Australian Open by lifting the Brisbane International title with a 6-2, 6-1 win over qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Svitolina, ranked sixth in the world, fired 10 aces and never faced a break point on her way to a 10th career tour title.

She raced to a 3-0 lead before 23-year-old Belarussian Sasnovich found her range with some lethal backhands and briefly threatened to make it a contest.

However, Svitolina unleashed a series of powerful groundstrokes to break again and clinch the first set, before running away with the second to claim the title in just more than an hour.

“It was a tough, tough off-season,” third seed Svitolina, also 23, said on court after the match. “To start with a trophy is always very, very special.”

World No. 88 Sasnovich, bidding to become the first qualifier to win the title in Brisbane, ran out of gas in her eighth match of the week and only her third career encounter against a top 10 player.

She had stunned sixth seed Kristina Mladenovic in the opening round and defeated last year’s runner-up Alize Cornet in the quarter-finals before battling past Anastasija Sevastova in the last four.

“Sorry for my play today,” Sasnovich told the crowd. “It was an incredible week for Elina — she was better than me and deserved to win. It was a good week for me.”

Svitolina, having landed her first silverware of the season, heads to the Australian Open with her eyes fixed firmly on a maiden Grand Slam trophy.

Hopman Cup

AFP, PERTH, Australia

Roger Federer’s perfect start to the new year continued yesterday when he dismantled the game of world No. 4 Alexander Zverev in the final of the mixed teams Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia.

Unbeaten in his three singles matches in the tournament prior to the final as he prepared for his Australian Open title defense, the 19-time Grand Slam champion dropped the first set against Zverev, but recovered to win in three sets, 6-7 (4/7), 6-0, 6-2.

It gave Switzerland a 1-0 lead in the final, with Federer aiming to add to the title he won in Perth with Martina Hingis in 2001.

Zverev came out all guns blazing in a high-intensity first set where both players produced moments of brilliance, with both holding multiple break points.

However, the young German managed to prevail in the tiebreaker as he aimed to repeat his singles win over Federer at the Hopman Cup last year, when all three sets were decided by tiebreakers.

Federer’s frustration was obvious, dropping his racket after missing an easy volley and then launching a ball toward the roof.

However, it soon passed as he started to blunt the German’s power and his superior court craft turned the momentum.

Federer took pace off his shots and used the drop shot repeatedly to catch Zverev out, racing through the second set.

The German was the one who lost his cool as the match slipped away, copping a code violation for an audible obscenity after disputing the chair umpire’s decision to replay a Zverev serve in the second set.

Zverev’s serve, and resolve, was broken in the third game of the third set and fittingly it was a Federer drop shot which sealed the win.

“I played great throughout the three sets and Sasha probably dropped his level a little bit in the second and third sets,” he said. “I was able to put Switzerland ahead so I am very happy.”

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