Barty scores breakthrough win

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Ash Barty celebrates beating Japan’s Nao Hibino in the final of the WTA Malaysian Open.

Paul MaloneThe Courier-Mail

THE prodigal daughter of Australian tennis, Ash Barty, has barged into the world’s top 100 with her first WTA Tour title.

Barty, who did not have a singles ranking point to her name last May, won Sunday night’s final of the $ US250,000 WTA Kuala Lumpur tournament over Japan’s Nao Hibino 6-3, 6-2.

The 20-year-old from Ipswich will rise from No.158 to about No.91 in today’s rankings list, a bare 13 months after she laid comeback plans with Tennis Australia at the end of her dalliance with cricket.

Barty, a qualifier, lost one set in five main-draw matches and none in qualifying to take out a tournament which had entries from three top-20 players.

The diminutive right-hander is now almost certain to be at a direct entry at the year’s remaining three Grand Slam tournaments as she has so few ranking points to defend over the next six months.

Ash Barty after winning the WTA Malaysian Open on Sunday.

Ash Barty after winning the WTA Malaysian Open on Sunday.Source:AFP

Barty showed her mental tenacity against world No.106 Hibino, keeping her momentum rolling in their match despite a 90-minute delay when Barty had been leading 4-1.

The former Wimbledon junior champion has brilliantly backed up her encouraging Australian summer when she was ranked No.232 before her Australian Open third-round results and pockets one of her biggest singles pay cheques, $ US43,000.

Barty served seven aces in a match which took 73 minutes only and was again compact and penetrative in her ground game.

She and Casey Dellacqua were set to play the doubles final in Kuala Lumpur after the singles final.

Meanwhile, Brisbane’s John Millman has set his sights optimistically on the French Open after having surgery last week to repair the conjoint tendon repair in his abdominal wall, six weeks after reluctantly calling a halt to his efforts to play at the Australian Open.

“We’re pretty confident that it’s been causing the problems,’’ Millman said.

Ash Barty celebrates beating Japan's Nao Hibino in the final of the WTA Malaysian Open.

Ash Barty celebrates beating Japan’s Nao Hibino in the final of the WTA Malaysian Open.Source:AFP

“It was pretty frustrating that we took a while to find the problem, but I had some really good help there.’’

Australia’s third-ranked player when he first called a halt to his 2016 season due to what he thought were hip injuries, Millman will be able to use an injury-protected ranking in the eighties when he tries to return to the ATP Tour, perhaps in May.

American Sam Querrey stunned Rafael Nadal 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) in their final of the ATP Acapulco tournament yesterday.

Big-hitting Querrey, ranked no.40, backed up his semi-final win over Nick Kyrgios to notch his fourth win over a top-20 player in the tournament.

Barty will possess a career high ranking on Monday as her best before her September 2014 departure from world tennis was No.129.

Originally published as Barty scores breakthrough win

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