Carreno Busta lifts Kooyong title

Carreno Busta lifts Kooyong title

Pablo Carreno Busta beat approaching wet weather to conclude his build-up to the Australian Open with a 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 6-2 defeat of Matthew Ebden in the final of the Kooyong Classic in Melbourne on Friday.

Carreno Busta, the second Spaniard to win the event after two titles from Fernando Verdasco, staged a steady fightback to overhaul the 76th-ranked Ebden, who stands second on Australia's national list behind Nick Kyrgios.

Ebden, who sat out half of 2016 with a knee injury, spent much of last season on the lower-level Challenger series and starts the Australian Open against 16th seed John Isner.

Tenth seed Carreno Busta faces another Australian at Melbourne Park, playing Jason Kubler.

Belinda Bencic of Switzerland lifted the women's title 3-6, 6-4, 10-4 (tiebreak set) to beat Andrea Petkovic in a rain-interrupted final lasting just under 90 minutes.

Petkovic, long the tennis entertainer, kept things lively during a weather pause on court, dancing to music piped over the stadium PA system and even getting a match official involved.

"It wasn't the best day, but we stuck through it," the German said, "My dancing was probably better than my play today."

Del Potro, Agut  in final

Juan Martin del Potro overcame a stubborn challenge from David Ferrer to clinch their semifinal 6-4, 6-4 and advance to a title showdown against Roberto Bautista Agut in the Auckland Classic on Friday.

Del Potro, who sealed the Auckland title in 2009, shone in the key moments and fought off six of the seven break points Ferrer forged in a tense clash, with two games in the second set lasting almost 10 minutes apiece.

Earlier, fifth seed Bautista Agut outlasted Dutchman Robin Haase in an epic clash that took almost three hours before the Spaniard produced an audacious backhand lob that kissed the baseline to clinch the 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) win.

Mertens wins

Defending champion Elise Mertens of Belgium reached the Hobart International final with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 win over British qualifier Heather Watson on Friday.

The second-seeded Mertens recovered from a second-set lapse to edge out Watson, who won the tournament in 2015, in one hour and 42 minutes.

The 22-year-old world number 36 will play Mihaela Buzarnescu in Saturday's final after the Romanian sailed past fifth-seeded Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko 6-2 6-2 in the second semi-final.

Yuki  inches  closer  

In Melbourne, Yuki Bhambri outclassed Spaniard Carlos Taberner to reach the third and final qualifying round of the Australian Open  on Friday.

Bhambri  defeated  the world number 183 6-0, 6-2 in the second round of the men's singles qualifiers.

Bhambri will now fight it out with Canadian Peter Polanksy for a place in the main draw.

Ramkumar Ramanathan, India's next best singles player in the rankings at number 139, will play his second round later in the day.

The 23-year-old from Chennai is up against French man Gleb Sakharov, ranked 156.

Barty downs Gavrilova  

Ashleigh Barty overcame a slow start to win her all-Australian semifinal against Daria Gavrilova 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 and advance to the final of the Sydney International.

The 21-year-old needed one hour, 58 minutes on Friday to see off the challenge of the Russian-born Gavrilova as both players struggled to hold serve throughout the match.  

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