Carreno Busta, Bencic brave ‘crazy Melbourne summer’ for Kooyong titlesPosted on January 12, 2018
Pablo Carreno Busta fought back from a set down to defeat Australian Matt Ebden and become the second Spaniard to win the 2018 Priceline Pharmacy Kooyong Classic in hot and rainy conditions.
Later in the women’s final, young Swiss star Belinda Bencic defeated Andrea Petkovic 3-6 6-4 (10-4) in an evenly contested two-set match that was decided by a ten-point tiebreaker.
Joining compatriot Fernando Verdasco, who won in 2015 and 2010, Carreno Busta held the trophy high for the fans who braved humid and wet conditions for the finale of the tournament’s 30th anniversary celebration.
The 26-year-old took some time to get into the match falling a set behind to the world No. 76 from Perth, before finding his range from the back of the court, hitting his way to a 6-7(6) 6-4 6-2 win.
Following a season that saw the world No. 10 play in the quarterfinals at the French Open and semi-finals of the US Open he will enter Melbourne Park with strong performances against David Goffin and Ebden.
“It was very good preparation for the Australian Open,” Carreno Busta told reporters after the match.
“I’ve been a set and a break down in both matches so I think for me it was perfect, I continued fighting all the time and today was a very competitive match which is the most important thing.
“Yeah, I have played in the wind, sun and rain – I think the Melbourne summer is crazy, but we are here, so I try to acclimatise as soon as possible.
“Well I hope to be here over the next few years and the people are good.”
Ebden came close to becoming the eighth Australian to claim the Kooyong crown, which was first won by local tennis legend Pat Cash in 1988 a year after he won Wimbledon against world No. 1 Ivan Lendl.
The 30-year-old played three matches at Kooyong as he prepares for his home Grand Slam after a strong year on the ATP Tour following an extended period on the sidelines in 2016 with a knee injury.
“The first day I won and yesterday I had chances to win and again today I was right there to win that one as well,” Ebden said after the match.
“Obviously, I’m playing at a pretty good level, but it would be nice to maintain that for just a little bit more, but hopefully that will come in the coming weeks.
“I’ve just got to keep trying to push for that and the level was there today.”
The Australian Open mixed doubles champion from 2013 is now set to play No. 15 seed John Isner from the United States in the first round at Melbourne Park next week.
The women’s final saw two official rain delays and finished with Bencic holding the trophy after two hard fought sets, the first which was won by former world No. 9 Petkovic from Germany.
The 20-year-old raced to a 4-1 lead in the ten-point tie break and was able to close out the match before taking on No. 5 seed Venus Williams from the United States next week at Melbourne Park.
“It was a lot of energy, we had to warm up a few times,” Bencic said.
“That’s tennis but it was definitely better than hitting somewhere indoors so we managed to make it through and we were chatting, it was a fun day.
“I’ve played a lot of matches and have my confidence back (these last six months)… oh, I love the club (Kooyong) I think it’s so beautiful and I love that you have grass courts.
“It’s just great that the people came out, it’s a good place and I’d love to be back.”
The afternoon brought about a range of emotions from Petkovic who danced away to the music while the second rain delay was being decided on by the umpire early in the second set.
Later in the match the 30-year-old played with obvious frustration, throwing her racket into the ground a few times after conceding points during the deciding ten-point tiebreaker.
“I played well considering everything that was going on,” Petkovic said.
“In the end I wasn’t even annoyed by my play I was just annoyed by the whole thing because I think it could have been so great, it was just unfortunate.
“I’m playing well and today was a great test against Belinda because she’s been playing tremendously well the last couple of months, but I really liked the preparation here.”
2017 Priceline Pharmacy Kooyong Classic
Match reports and quotes from players throughout the tournament are available at kooyongclassic.com.au.
The 2018 Priceline Pharmacy Kooyong Classic is proudly supported by principal partner, Priceline Pharmacy, with support from Agnew Wines. The Seven Network will broadcast all four days of Kooyong’s action across Australia.