Angelique Kerber issues Australian Open warning with Sydney International triumph

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ASH Barty gets the ball rolling for Australia when she takes on former world No.1 Angelique Kerber in the Sydney International women's final starting at 5pm.

The German endured a tough campaign previous year, but appears close to recapturing her best form, claiming a title to begin the season with a 6-4 6-4 win over Barty.

The German made her breakthrough in 2016, with wins at the Australian Open and Flushing Meadows, but struggled a year ago, falling to 22nd in the world.

"This start is not bad for 2018, for sure".

Now ranked outside the world's top 20, Kerber's form so far suggests that she has what it takes to reclaim her former mantle as the best player on the WTA tour.

The German will meet Italian qualifier and world No 100 Camila Giorgi, who upset Poland's former world No 2 Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1, 6-2.

During the trophy presentation, Kerber said: "I am playing unbelievable tennis again and feeling just great". But I'm feeling good - I'm healthy.

Barty played a poor semi-final despite winning the match and has to improve considerably to stand a chance tonight.

Kerber's game though appears to be more solid at this stage and her current level should be enough for the German to secure another WTA tour title in a tough three-setter.

Italian fourth seed Fabio Fognini set up a semi-final against qualifier Daniil Medvedev following a 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (7-4), 6-2 marathon against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

The 42nd-ranked Paire will meet rising young Australian star Alex de Minaur, who downed Spain's Feliciano Lopez in the night match, 6-4, 6-4.

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