After leaving tennis to pursue other dreams and goals in life, the 22-year-old Ashleigh Barty has made an incredible comeback, building up her game and momentum again to become one of the world's leading players and a contender for the biggest titles in our sport.
The Ipswich native was off to a great start of 2019 campaign, losing in the final of Sydney to Petra Kvitova and once again in the quarter-final at the Australian Open, getting the opportunity to avenge those defeats on Tuesday evening in Miami and taking it with both hands, scoring a 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 triumph in two hours and 32 minutes!
This was the first win for the Aussie over the Czech and one of her most beloved victories on the Tour ever, improving her 2019 tally to 16-3 and cracking the top-10 for the first time in a career! The youngster saved six out of ten break points and it was enough to cross the finish line first, stealing Petra's serve five times from eight opportunities, saving her best tennis for the decider to move over the top and join the elite company in the rankings.
It was an open war right from the start and the first set lasted for 74 minutes, with nothing to separate them from start to finish. Barty fended off a couple of break points in the opening game to avoid an early setback before Petra broke her in the fifth game for a 3-2.
Kvitova sprayed a backhand error in the following game to lose the advantage and repelled a set point at 5-6 with a well-constructed attack to reach the tie break where she forged a 5-2 lead. Staying composed, Ashleigh started to melt down the deficit, saving a set point at 5-6 and stealing the last three points for an 8-6 when Petra netted a forehand.
The Czech bounced back with a double break in set number two, moving 4-2 up when Barty netted a backhand and forcing an error from the Aussie in game nine to grab the set 6-3 and force a decider after two hours of play. The youngster drew first blood there in game two with a perfect lob winner before Kvitova fought back after a double fault from Barty in game five for more drama and excitement.
Nonetheless, a left-handed Czech committed a huge forehand error to drop serve at 15 in the sixth game and there was no way back for her, losing 12 of the last 13 points and sending Ashleigh over the finish line with a double fault at 2-5.