Ashleigh Barty toasts ‘hell of a year’ after US Open exit
Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty reflected on a “hell of a year” in which she captured a first Grand Slam singles title following Sunday’s last 16 defeat at the US Open.
Barty, the second seed from Australia, was bundled out by China’s Wang Qiang after an error-strewn performance, but the 23-year-old was keen to put her season’s work into perspective.
The Queensland native had never progressed beyond the last 16 at a major until this year, but she broke new ground at January’s Australian Open by reaching the quarter-finals and then captured a maiden Slam title in Paris.
That was followed by a run to the last 16 at Wimbledon as the new world number one, becoming the first Australian woman to hold the top ranking since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976.
“It’s a tough day at the office today. But it has been a year where we’ve hit our goals,” Barty said in the wake of a disappointing 6-2, 6-4 loss to 18th seed Wang.
“We’ve had a great season in Grand Slams for singles. We’ve made the second week every single one, which has been really special. Now we’ll sit back, reflect, and look forward to a big couple months to finish off the year.”
Barty routed Czech youngster Marketa Vondrousova in the French Open final in June but insisted there was no reason to fret over her earlier exits at Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows.
“I don’t think the second week of a Slam is a missed opportunity,” she said. “
“It’s a hell of an effort for all slams to get to the second week. Yes, I would have loved to have done better. It wasn’t to be. But certainly not something I’m stressed about.”
Barty, who beat Wang twice last year in their only prior meetings, was undone by 39 unforced errors at Louis Armstrong Stadium.
“Look, yeah, it’s frustrating now. Again, give me an hour and I’ll be right. It’s an opportunity, it’s a new day tomorrow,” she said.
“Just because we’ve had a tough hour and a half on the court, it doesn’t reflect on the year that I’ve had or the couple of weeks I’ve had here in New York.”
However Barty, who lifted the US Open women’s doubles’ title with Coco Vandeweghe in 2018, is still hopeful of retaining her crown alongside Victoria Azarenka.
Barty and Azarenka, twice runner-up to Serena Williams in the singles in New York, are through to the third round and could face US teen duo Coco Gauff and Caty McNally for a place in the quarter-finals.
“Obviously I would have loved to have kept going here in singles, but we’ve got an opportunity to do that in doubles,” Barty said.
“Knowing what it was like last year to be able to lift the trophy in doubles was really cool. To be able to have another opportunity to do that now, still being able to play in doubles, is a bonus.”