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  Tennis: Kuznetsova hammers Puig to win Sydney final
 
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15/01/16  SYDNEY (AFP) - Veteran Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova breezed past Monica Puig to win her 16th career title with a straight sets victory in the final of the Sydney International on Friday.

The 25th-ranked Kuznetsova took just 55 minutes to claim a 6-0, 6-2 victory over the 94th-ranked Puerto Rican in a one-sided final at Ken Rosewall Arena.

The 30-year-old, who was making her 11th appearance at the Sydney tournament, served at a high 69 percent with eight aces and broke Puig s serve five times.

It capped a memorable tournament for Kuznetsova, who upset world number two Simona Halep in a rain-interrupted semi-final earlier Friday 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-3 in two hours 44 minutes.

It was a great tonic for the experienced Russian ahead of next week s Australian Open in Melbourne where she will face Daniela Hantuchova in the opening round.

"It was not the easy schedule for me with doubles matches, with rain delays, with tough match with Simona this morning and last night," Kuznetsova said.

"I m really happy. I want to keep focused for Australian Open.

"I don t remember all my 16 finals right now, but I went out there and I felt like it was not even necessary to hit the ball that hard, because even if I put a ball back she wouldn t get to the winner."

Puig had an easy ride into only her second WTA final when Swiss eighth seed Belinda Bencic retired with an illness after losing the opening set 6-0.

Bencic was ill overnight and battled the match just to make it to the court and conceded as soon as Puig romped away with the first set.

"I retired today because I was throwing up all morning and feeling sick," the Swiss player tweeted.

"In respect to Monica I wanted to go on court and at least try, but I really couldn t finish the match."

Bencic is the third player to withdraw from Sydney because of illness. Defending champion Petra Kvitova pulled out with a gastrointestinal illness before even hitting a ball and Angelique Kerber withdrew after winning her first round match also with a stomach bug.

Rain seriously disrupted the tournament s programme on Thursday and the two women s semi-finals were held over until Friday with Halep leading 5-4 when play was suspended.

Puig resumed on Friday leading 4-0 over Bencic in the first set and only played two more games to take the set before her opponent pulled out of the match citing a stomach illness. It was Puig s first final in two years.

"There wasn t really too much I could do," Puig said. "I definitely ran around the court and tried to get every single ball I could back.

"Overall a very good week and I m very happy. Really not going to get disheartened about this final. She played unbelievable."
 
 
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