Ash Barty has put on a brave face after her shock defeat in the first round of the Brisbane International, with the world number 17 and tournament eight seed humbled by red-hot Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko.
???Barty had a stunning year in 2017 and entered this summer as ‘s highest-ranked player. But she crashed back to earth with a decent thud after losing 6-3 6-2 in front of friends and family at her hometown event.
The 21-year-old from Ipswich was chasing the game from the outset as 28-year-old Tsurenko, ranked 42, landed 63 per cent of her first serves and dished out five aces.
Barty could find a home for just 53 per cent of her serves, while she was outgunned on the baseline as her timing deserted her in front of an arena that grew quieter and quieter as the result became inevitable.
“She did play very well and tonight, for me, the polish wasn’t quite there. Any players in the top 50, when you’re not playing your best, they’re going to punish you,” Barty said.
“It’s obviously disappointing. It’s not the way I envisaged my first tournament of the year. There were flashes of what we wanted, tonight I couldn’t quite string it all together.”
Barty hasn’t been accustomed to playing at home with such lofty expectations. She started last year ranked 271 in the world and wasn’t sure what she wanted out of the sport. Prior to that, she played a season of WBBL cricket for the Brisbane Heat.
Incredibly, she was the top-ranked n woman by October and ended the year ranked 17, having defeated five top 10 players along the way.
She said that success would ensure she didn’t dwell on her defeat. She is still alive in the doubles draw in Brisbane with partner Casey Dellacqua and will also play in Sydney ahead of the n Open.
“I didn’t work hard all last year and work my butt off during the off-season to spit the dummy after one match. We get back on the doubles court tomorrow, focus on that and then move onto Sydney.
“I love playing here. I’m disappointed I couldn’t do a bit better. But I try and approach every match exactly the same.”
She admitted there were some ‘butterflies’ before the match but insisted it was the brilliance of Tsurenko that got the better of her, not the occasion.
“A few butterflies, first match of the season, at home, but it was excitement more than nerves. It wasn’t quite there for me tonight. That’s sport.
“It’s a little bit different (being in the spotlight) but I prepare for every single match exactly the same. It’s exciting playing at home but we’ve still got a few weeks left in the summer and we’re gearing up for the n Open.”