Ashleigh Barty of Australia talks to the media following her women’s singles quarterfinals match against Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic during day 10 of the 2021 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on February 17, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/MATT KING
Ashleigh Barty of Australia talks to the media following her women’s singles quarterfinals match against Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic during day 10 of the 2021 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on February 17, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/MATT KING

Ash Barty confessed to being heartbroken at coming up short in the Australian Open quarterfinals on Wednesday but did not want the shock defeat to distract from her successful return to tennis after a year on the sidelines.

The world No 1 returned to the tour for the Melbourne Park warm-up tournaments after staying at home to try sitting out the Covid-19 pandemic, running up an eight-match winning streak before Wednesday’s 1-6 6-3 6-2 loss to Karolina Muchova.

“It’s heartbreaking, of course,” said Barty, who was hoping to become the first home-grown Australian Open champion since Chris O’Neil in 1978. “But will it deter me? Will it ruin the fact we’ve had a really successful start to our season? Absolutely not. The sun will come up tomorrow.

“We go about our work again. You’re either winning or your learning. We won’t let ... this particular hour of tennis deter us from what we’re trying to do.”

In her news conference, Barty channelled her time as a cricketer to repeatedly bat back suggestions that Muchova had gamed the system by taking a medical timeout after losing the opening set. She instead focused on her inability to take back the momentum once the revitalised Czech started playing her best tennis in the second and third sets.

“I felt like I lost control of the ball a little,” Barty said. “I felt like I lost my way with overplaying, overdressing, not letting myself work into the points and really construct points as well as I’d like to.”

Barty said she has entered some upcoming tournaments in the Middle East and will make a final call on where to play after assessing the health risks.

“The health of my team and myself will always be the priority ... we’ll make the right decisions for the right reasons,” the former French Open champion added.

“Being back on the tour has been fantastic. I’ve loved every second, even though at times it is frustrating. That’s the name of the game. That’s the sport that we play.” 

Reuters

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