Australian qualifier Ashleigh Barty has breezed past Japan’s Nao Hibino 6-3 6-2 in a rain-hit Malaysian Open final to win her first WTA singles title in Kuala Lumpur.
Victory for the 20-year-old Queenslander secured her a spot in the world’s top 100, guaranteeing direct entry for grand slam events.
It is a remarkable revival for Barty who only returned to tennis last year after taking time out to play cricket.
“I’m over the moon, I don’t really know what to say, I’m a bit speechless,” Barty said.
Barty served seven aces during the match, which was halted for more than an hour in the first set due to rain.
She then showed her mental tenacity against world No.106 Hibino and kept her momentum rolling into the second set to wrap up the match in an hour and 13 minutes.
“I think it’s been a success for us, the start [of 2017], more successful than we thought,” she said.
“It’s a tribute to all the work we did in the off-season, and last year, coming back. It hasn’t quite been 12 months since I started playing singles again,” Barty said.
“I’m certainly happy to be back.
“Nao had an amazing week, had some fantastic results.
“I was ready to go and did the best that I could tonight – and thankfully it was enough to get over the line.”