Melbourne Park, 6 December 2010 | Eloise Johnstone
Fourteen-year-old Ashleigh Barty won her first round-robin match in the Optus 18s with a physically challenging match ending in tears for fifth-seed Ashling Sumner, who was forced to retire with cramp.
The Melbourne sun and a tight first two sets proved too much for the exhausted Sumner, handing victory to her younger opponent 4-6 6-3 4-1.
Photos: Optus 18s Australian Championships
It was a disappointing end to what was a very tight, physical contest, with long rallies and impressive winners coming from the racquets of both girls.
Sumner took the first set after the girls traded serves and were unable to stamp any authority on the match.
Barty immediately broke Sumner’s serve in the first game of the second set and went on to win the set with a double break after several resounding volley winners.
The heat and challenging nature of the match clearly took its toll on Sumner as the match went into the third set, with Barty breaking Sumner to love in the first game.
Visibly distressed and cramping in her legs and fingers, it became apparent that she would be unable to continue.
Barty, a 16/u National Champion, was impressive against an opponent four years her senior, displaying an all-court game with winners coming from volleys, smashes and the back court.
“I’m feeling pretty happy. I was able to beat her at her own game really,” she said after the match.
Barty was sympathetic to her opponent and friend, Sumner, who was taken from the court in a wheelchair.
“I feel bad at the way she is at the moment. I just wanted to finish the match, it was great quality.
“We’re great mates, and it’s been a great match. To finish like this … I’m not happy about it,” she said.
Barty drew quite a crowd on Court 5, with coach Scott Draper watching the 14 year old touted as Australia’s “next big thing”.
Barty, however, is focused on her next two Optus 18s round-robin matches, looking to repeat her performance today against her older opponents.
“It was really good I was able to out-physical her so I’m feeling confident going into my next few matches,” she said.
Draws and scores
18s boys’ singles draws and scores
18s girls’ singles draws and scores
18s boys’ doubles draws and scores
18s girls’ doubles draws and scores