INSTANT REACTION: Barty on her 2022 singles start

Playing her first singles match in four months, Ashleigh Barty was given everything she could handle by Coco Gauff in an enticing showdown Wednesday evening at the Adelaide International. Down a set and 2-4, ad-out, the world No. 1 clawed back to prevail, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1, avoiding a trend that has already seen three Top 10 players crash out of the tournament.

“Coco played great. She forced me to play a lot of balls tonight,” Barty said in her on-court interview.

“It’s felt like an eternity since I’ve been back playing at home.”

Last season, Barty opened a 6-4, 2-1 lead on Gauff in the Rome quarterfinals when a right arm injury forced her to retire. The two met again Tuesday on the doubles court, where Barty and Storm Sanders rolled to victory over US Open finalists Gauff and Caty McNally.


Barty is aiming to clinch an Australian Open lead-up event for the third consecutive year (Adelaide-2020, Melbourne 1-2021).

Barty is aiming to clinch an Australian Open lead-up event for the third consecutive year (Adelaide-2020, Melbourne 1-2021).

The 17-year-old handled Barty’s variation and change of pace for the bulk of their latest clash, as the Australian’s knifing of the backhand often compelled Gauff to rush the net off the low slice to mixed results. Having let an early break advantage slip, Gauff’s patience and aggressive hitting on her second-serve return were rewarded, particularly in the back third of the 49-minute opening set—she saved two break points at 3-4, converted her fourth break point of the ninth game to move ahead for a second time and recovered from 30-40 to close it out.

Still under pressure, Barty staved off four break points to survive a six-deuce game at the start of set two. She continued to find difficulty with establishing a rhythm on serve, falling behind once again when a netted forehand saw her broken at 2-2. Hanging on, Barty avoided going down a double break at 2-4, Ad-Out with a crucial serve +1, and quickly imposed her game to get back on serve for 4-4. With the crowd behind her, the reigning Wimbledon champion brought more initiative to the table, punctuated with a gorgeous forehand lob winner on set point to even the contest.

“I probably went through a 10 or 15-minute period there where I didn’t execute on my forehand. Just wasn’t quite getting that momentum,” Barty admitted. She credited the vocal support in the seventh game for helping her get dialed back in.


You lob to see it. 

Both players shook off shaky games at the line at the start of the decider, but at 1-2, three forehand unforced errors and a misjudged backhand by Gauff resulted in her dropping serve at love. Barty backed it up with clean execution and soon created space from her 22nd-ranked opponent to secure the hard-fought victory after two hours and 12 minutes.

World No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka and sixth-ranked Maria Sakkari were less fortunate. Sabalenka was ousted in her season opener, with Kaja Juvan upsetting the world No. 2, 7-6 (6), 6-1. Sabalenka fired 18 double faults in defeat.

Maria Sakkari won her first-round encounter in three sets Monday, but came out on the losing end of the scenario to Shelby Rogers despite winning 11 more total points. Rogers, who took down Barty in the third round of the US Open last year, prevailed, 7-6 (5), 2-6, 6-4. The American won all but one of her five break point chances.

Barty is the lone Top 4 seed remaining at the 500-level event.