Sharapova was given a wildcard in Stuttgart in March a year ago, even though her suspension didn't allow her to play her first-round match until the third day of the tournament - a decision Kerber labelled at the time as "a little bit strange".
"I have had a great week and the final was not easy against Ash but I was able to play my game in important moments". The Australian, playing in front of her home crowd, rallied slightly and broke straight back to get back on level terms, though was broken again at 2-2 and was unable to even up this time.
She had already beaten Olivia Rogowska in the first round and former U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur in the second and advanced to the semi-finals after Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza withdrew with a hip injury. The victory continues her fine start to 2018, having now won eight consecutive matches including the Hopman Cup and Sydney victories against Venus Williams and Dominika Cibulkova.
Barty was looking for her first WTA Tour title on home soil but it was Kerber who seized the initiative in the match and went on to win 6-4 6-4. I was just trying to getting used to the weather conditions, as well, because every day was a little bit different: windy, it was hot, and everything. I played some of my best tennis this week and it wasn't enough. "We can go out and have a really good match, go hard at each other, and still shake hands, have a hug at the end of the match, and wish each other the best", Barty said.
Australia's Ashleigh Barty is in great form after reaching the Sydney International final.
Now ranked outside the world's top 20, Kerber's form so far suggests that she has what it takes to reclaim her former mantle as the best player on the WTA tour.
"And Angie is on fire".
Should Kerber and Sharapova both win their opening two matches, they will square off in a mouth-watering third-round clash made all the more spicy by recent tension between the pair.
Barty also looks to have set herself for a deep run at the Australian Open, after making the third round of the tournament previous year. "I think even though it may not be ideal at the moment, it's still good enough to win matches".