Svetlana Kuznetsova is the 2016 Apia International champion, as she beat Monica Puig 6-0, 6-2 with a superb performance in Sydney, Australia on Friday.
The fourth seed and her final opponent played both their semi-final matches and final itself on the same day in an attempt to overcome the elements. But there seemed to be little physical deterioration from the 30-year-old, as she secured the 16th WTA title of her distinguished career.
In the men’s draw, reigning champion Viktor Troicki booked his place in the final with a fine three-set win over Teymuraz Gabashvili. He’ll face Grigor Dimitrov, who beat Gilles Muller routinely in straight sets in his last-four tussle.
Here’s a look at the results in full from another rain-affected day in Sydney, the details of the remaining match to come and a recap of the most significant moments from Friday’s play.
|Apia International 2016: Results and Schedule|
|Quarter-Final||Teymuraz Gabashvili bt. (1) Bernard Tomic||6-3 3-0 (Ret)|
|Quarter-Final||Gilles Muller bt. Jeremy Chardy||7-6 (5), 6-3|
|Quarter-Final||(3) Viktor Troicki bt. Nicolas Mahut||4-6, 6-3, 6-3|
|Quarter-Final||(4) Grigor Dimitrov bt Alexandr Dolgopolov||4-6, 6-3, 6-4|
|Semi-Final||(3) Viktor Troicki bt. Teymuraz Gabashvili||3-6, 6-4, 6-4|
|Semi-Final||(4) Grigor Dimitrov bt. Gilles Muller||6-2, 7-6 (4)|
|Semi-Final||Svetlana Kuznetsova bt. (1) Simona Halep||7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-3|
|Semi-Final||Monica Puig bt. (8) Belinda Bencic||6-0 (Ret)|
|Final||Svetlana Kuznetsova bt. Monica Puig||6-0, 6-2|
|Men's Final||(4) Grigor Dimitrov vs. (3) Victor Troicki||Saturday, Jan. 16|
Kuznetsova Breezes Past Puig to Take Title
Puig arguably had a small advantage here, with both players having to play their semi-finals earlier in the day. The Swiss’ opponent in the last four, Belinda Bencic, retired after the opener with the scoreline at 6-0, while Kuznetsova was involved in a draining three-set clash, which she eventually won against top seed Simona Halep.
Nevertheless, when it comes to a major final, adrenaline can carry players a long way and Kuznetsova, renowned for her industry out on court, is not a player to be written off in such circumstances.
She showed exactly why in the early stages of the match, playing some scintillating tennis. The two-time Grand Slam champion showed her top-level pedigree by winning the first six games in succession, taking a lopsided opening set by a 6-0 scoreline.
As noted by Tennis TV, it didn’t take long for the Russian to move into a one-set lead in the final:
Tennis TV @TennisTV
Here are those first set stats at @SydneyTennis. Watch the second set live now: https://t.co/kRsZ9udpkC https://t.co/B4VSPSRB6U2016-1-15 09:13:02
The pattern continued for much of the second set, with Puig clearly unable to cope with the class of her opponent. With the scoreline at 3-0 in the stanza, there was a danger of the Puerto Rican not getting a game on the board.
However, at the 10th time of asking, she did win a game, but it was merely postponing what had become an inevitable outcome.
Despite having her momentum halted, there was a clear gulf in class between the two players and Kuznetsova eventually saw out the set 6-2, giving her one of the most comfortable final wins of her career.
The men’s draw also saw the remaining players have to take part in two matches to get back on schedule, with Troicki and Dimitrov able to grit their way through to Saturday’s final.
The reigning champion is the man most likely to feel the effects of this kind of scheduling, as he was involving in two draining three-set matches. First he recovered from a set down to beat Nicolas Mahut 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, and in his semi he was also on the ropes before getting the better of Gabashvili 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Dimitrov’s first match was a tough one, as he overcame the dangerous Alexandr Dolgopolov in three sets. But the Bulgarian showed his undeniable class in the semis against Muller, rarely giving his big-serving opponent a sniff in a 6-2 7-6 (4) triumph.
As we can see per the tournament’s official Twitter feed, Dimitrov was pleased with the performance he put in against Muller:
Sydney International @SydneyTennis
"I thought my mental toughness was pretty good today" #Dimitrov #SydneyTennis https://t.co/xM9tqsBUaG2016-1-15 08:28:09
Sydney International @SydneyTennis
"It's been a good day at the office for me so to speak" #Dimitrov #SydneyTennis https://t.co/rxWgfzlbAE2016-1-15 08:29:34
Expect Saturday’s final to be a war of attrition. Both players had to battle hard to make it to this stage of the competition.
It’s impetus Kuznetsova will have behind her after a masterclass in the final. The Russian has never shown her very best levels at the Australian Open, having only ever made it to the quarter-finals in Melbourne. She’s enjoying a renaissance of late, though, and she will be one to watch in the women’s draw.