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Bertens vs Barty tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Can Barty make it back-to-back finals at the Apia International Sydney?

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 10 Jan 2019
  • World no. 9 Kiki Bertens faces Ashleigh Barty in the semifinals of the Apia International Sydney
  • Bertens vs Barty is live from Sydney on Friday at 2pm local/3am GMT
Kiki Bertens (Photo by PETER PARKS / AFP)

Kiki Bertens lost in straight sets to Ashleigh Barty last summer – can she get her revenge in Friday’s Apia International Sydney semifinals?

Ashleigh Barty is out to make back-to-back Apia International Sydney finals – but the local favourite will have to get past world no. 9 Kiki Bertens first.

It took Bertens nine years after turning pro to reach a WTA Tour final on hard courts; now she’s one win away from making her third one in the space of six months. The former French Open finalist was often thought of as a clay-court, or at least natural-surface specialist, and some of her best results in 2018 did come on the clay courts of Charleston, where she won the title, and Madrid, where she made the biggest final of her career and finished runner-up to Petra Kvitova. 

But 2018 was the year that Bertens proved she’s also capable of playing phenomenal tennis on hard courts, winning her biggest title yet at the Premier-5 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati and going on to claim the Seoul title to boot, securing her a place among the elite eight at the WTA Finals Singapore where she made the semifinals.

Finishing the year inside the top 10 as a result, Bertens has clearly brought at least some of that form to 2019. Defeated by Donna Vekic in a tight second-round match at the Brisbane International, Bertens – playing Sydney for the third time – opened her account there with a win over lucky loser Bernarda Pera before a walkover from Garbine Muguruza put her into her first WTA quarterfinal of 2019. There she faced off with Yulia Putintseva, who had scored a big comeback win over Sloane Stephens, the US Open champion serving for the match but unable to close the feisty Kazakh out. 

Bertens didn’t give Putintseva any similar opportunities. On a rainy day in Sydney, the 27-year-old used her inside-out forehand to devastating effect as she wrapped up a 6-2, 6-2 demolition job in just under an hour, effortlessly overpowering Putintseva and dropping just eight points on serve in the process.

Ashleigh Barty’s win over Elise Mertens in her quarterfinal wasn’t quite as comprehensive – but it was close. 

Barty, who warmed up for her first official tournament of the year by playing Hopman Cup with Matt Ebden last week, reached the final of the Apia International Sydney in 2018 in what was the curtain-raiser to an extremely solid season for the Australian. Champion in Zhuhai and Nottingham and a semifinalist in Montreal, Strasbourg and Wuhan, Barty did a great job of consolidating her meteoric leap up the rankings in 2017 and ended the year at a career-high world no. 15. 

The 22-year-old Australian has yet to drop a set in Sydney after three excellent wins, ousting French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-3, scoring the biggest win of her career over a rusty Halep 6-4, 6-4 and then trouncing Elise Mertens – ranked three places higher than Barty and a semifinalist at the Australian Open in 2018 – 6-3, 6-3 in 77 minutes. Mertens won less than half the points on either her first or second serve and was broken four times to Barty’s once.

Ashleigh Barty (PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images)
‘It was important to try and get ahead in games today,’ Barty said afterwards. ‘Elise is a great front-runner. I knew I had to try and take control of those first two or three points in games to give myself a chance. One sloppy game from me on serve in the second set was probably the only blemish.’

Barty and Bertens are both in the bottom half of the Australian Open women’s draw and will play Tuesday, allowing both a little breathing time before Melbourne and to remain focused on the quest for a first title in 2019 – and in Barty’s case, to become the first Australian winner of the Apia International Sydney since Alicia Molik in 2005. 

The one previous meeting between the two came in Montreal last summer, when Barty beat Bertens 6-3, 6-1 – pretty impressive given that Bertens had already beaten Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova that week, and would win Cincinnati the next week. 

‘She plays really tricky. I think in Montreal, I didn't play my best, so I'm really excited to play a good match tomorrow,’ Bertens said.

‘[Barty] uses the slice a lot, gets you out of the rhythm. You play to the forehand and then you get the heavy shot. I feel like she can do a lot with the ball. You just really have to play good, try to play aggressive but not too much, so try to stay in the rallies. That's what I have to do tomorrow.’

Both Barty and Bertens will be looking to get their opponent out of position and then hammer away with the forehand. Bertens’s route to doing so is a little more direct, but it will be the player who serves better who takes the win on Friday and moves into the semifinals – and that could very well be Barty, who is on a hot streak in front of the home crowd. Can she take down a second top-10 player this week?

Bertens vs Barty tennis is live from Sydney on Friday at 2pm local/3am GMT

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Bertens vs Barty tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Can Barty make it back-to-back finals at the Apia International Sydney?

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