Barty returns during the final in Kuala Lumpur
Barty returns during the final in Kuala Lumpur AHMAD YUSNI

Barty claims first title, career-high ranking

THE prodigal daughter of Australian tennis, Ash Barty, has barged into the world's top 100 with her first WTA Tour title.

Barty, who did not have a singles ranking point to her name last May, won Sunday night's final of the $US250,000 WTA Kuala Lumpur tournament over Japan's Nao Hibino 6-3, 6-2.

The 20-year-old from Ipswich will rise from No.158 to about No.91 in today's rankings list, a bare 13 months after she laid comeback plans with Tennis Australia at the end of her dalliance with cricket.

Barty, a qualifier, lost one set in five main-draw matches and none in qualifying to take out a tournament which had entries from three top-20 players.

The diminutive right-hander is now almost certain to be at a direct entry at the year's remaining three Grand Slam tournaments as she has so few ranking points to defend over the next six months.

Barty showed her mental tenacity against world No.106 Hibino, keeping her momentum rolling in their match despite a 90-minute delay when Barty had been leading 4-1.

 

Ashleigh Barty (L) of Australia and Nao Hibino of Japan poses with their trophy after their final match of the Alya WTA Tennis Malaysia Open tournament in Kuala Lumpur
Ashleigh Barty (L) of Australia and Nao Hibino of Japan poses with their trophy after their final match of the Alya WTA Tennis Malaysia Open tournament in Kuala Lumpur AHMAD YUSNI

The former Wimbledon junior champion has brilliantly backed up her encouraging Australian summer when she was ranked No.232 before her Australian Open third-round results and pockets one of her biggest singles pay cheques, $US43,000.

Barty served seven aces in a match which took 73 minutes only and was again compact and penetrative in her ground game.

"I'm over the moon, I don't really know what to say, I'm a bit speechless," Barty said.

"I think it's been a success for us, the start [of 2017], more successful than we thought," she said.

"It's a tribute to all the work we did in the off-season, and last year, coming back. It hasn't quite been 12 months since I started playing singles again. I'm certainly happy to be back."

She later combined with Dellacqua to win the doubles final, beating fourth seeds Nicole Melichar and Makoto Ninomiya 7-6 6-3.

Barty will possess a career high ranking today as her best before her September 2014 departure from world tennis was No.129.

News Corp Australia

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