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Radwanska rolls to victory in Sydney final

AFP-JIJI

Agnieszka Radwanska goes into next week’s Australian Open the hottest women’s player on form and says she believes she can win a Grand Slam.

The Polish player crushed hapless Dominika Cibulkova 6-0, 6-0 in just over an hour in Friday’s final at the Sydney International to take her unbeaten streak this year to nine.

It was Radwanska’s 12th career singles title and she has yet to drop a set this year.

Now she steps up to take on the women’s top three — Victoria Azarenka, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova — in the year-opening slam, but her confidence is high.

“Well, I think if I’m going to play like I did today, in Melbourne, I will be very happy. So we’ll see,” she said.

The 23-year-old faces Australian qualifier Bojana Bobusic in her first match at the Open and is seeded to face China’s Li Na in the quarters and Sharapova in the semis.

“Wherever I go now I just always think I can win it. I think Melbourne is also that kind of tournament,” she said.

“Being in the top 10, top five already for a couple years, I think it means that I can also win the Grand Slam.”

Radwanska reached her first major final at Wimbledon last year only to be beaten by Serena Williams in three sets, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 and has yet to go beyond the quarterfinal stage at the Australian Open.

Radwanska, who beat Belgian Yanina Wickmayer in the Auckland Classic final last week, has won back-to-back tournaments following her Sydney victory, but she remains at world No. 4 heading into Melbourne.

“I’m extremely happy I’ve won two titles in a row and have not even lost a set. Really it’s been an amazing two weeks,” she said.

“The Australian Open is a different tournament, a different story, and I just have to start from the beginning.

“I just hope I can play at the same level there as well.”

Radwanska said she will not have time to lavishly celebrate her Sydney win with her next match scheduled at the Australian Open on Monday.

“My coach and I said if we won (Sydney) we would not go drinking and have a party, just to have a huge piece of cheesecake,” she said smiling.

Three straight for Ferrer

AP
AUCKLAND

Top seed David Ferrer beat second-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 on Saturday to win the Heineken Open title for the third straight year and fourth time overall.

Ferrer matched the record of Australia’s Roy Emerson, who won the Auckland singles title in 1960, 1965, 1966 and 1967.

Spain’s Ferrer took the title for the first time in 2007.

Ferrer received an email from Emerson just before the final, wishing him well in his effort to equal his record.

The Spaniard, who heads to the Australian Open, said he would return in 2014 to try for a record fifth win.

Saturday’s win gave Ferrer the 19th singles title of his career and his eighth in the past 12 months.

His win in Auckland last January gave him the first of seven singles titles he won in eight finals appearances in 2012.

Kohlschreiber, ranked No. 19, was attempting to win the Heineken Open for the second time after his victory in 2008 and to add the eighth singles title of his career.

Kohlschreiber dominated early, serving strongly and returning aggressively. He broke Ferrer’s serve in the third game of the opening set and didn’t concede a point on serve until the eighth game when he was broken to allow Ferrer to even the set at 4-4.

Kohlschreiber broke again and had a set point as he served for the match at 5-4. But he faltered, dropped serve again and saw Ferrer take the set into a tiebreak.

Ferrer gained an early mini break and held it, winning the first set in 53 minutes.

Kohlschreiber’s spirits seemed to sag after that setback. He wasn’t able to serve as forcefully in the second set, or to challenge Ferrer’s increasing confidence on his own serve.

Ferrer broke Kohlschreiber in the third, fifth and seventh games, to take the second set in only 24 minutes. While Kohlschreiber served five aces to none, the German had an increasing number of unforced errors.

“I’m so happy,” Ferrer said. “It was amazing for me to win here four times. Now I can say this is my favorite tournament.”