KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will always be on Ashleigh Barty’s mind.
Yesterday, the 20-year-old Australian clinched her first WTA Tour singles title at the ALYA Malaysian Open tennis championships after beating Japan’s Nao Hibino 6-3, 6-2 in the final at the TPC Kuala Lumpur.
Barty is the second qualifier after Taiwanese Hsieh Su-wei in 2012 to lift the crown.
World No. 158 Barty, the girls’ singles champion at Wimbledon in 2011, got off to a thundering start as she broke 22-year-old Hibino, the world No. 106, in the second game to take a 4-1 lead.
A heavy downpour, however, delayed the match for two hours. But it did not affect Barty’s composure as she returned to close off the set 6-3.
In the second set, Barty broke Hibino twice in the third and seventh games to seal the win after 73 minutes.
“It’s been a massive week for me here. I played a lot of good tennis all week,” said Barty.
“It was also nice to face Hibino. We were junior partners last time and it’s nice to see each other all grown up on the senior Tour.”
Barty took home US$43,000 ($192,000) while Hibino had to settle for US$21,440 (RM96,000).
Barty will also enjoy a big jump in rankings this week. She is likely to move up to No. 95 when the new rankings are released today.
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