Adelaide, South Australia, 5 January 2022 | Vivienne Christie

Ash Barty has produced a classic comeback in her first match of the 2022 season, overcoming Coco Gauff at the Adelaide International after trailing by a set and a service break.

The world No.1 claimed her 4-6 7-5 6-1 victory in two hours and 12 minutes to secure a quarterfinal appearance at her home event.

Champion of the tournament in 2020, Barty set up a meeting with either countrywoman Ajla Tomljanovic or No.6 seed Sofia Kenin – but it’s unlikely the Australian was looking either backwards or forward as she withstood a tremendous early challenge from Gauff.

Refusing to be intimidated by her highly accomplished opponent, the 17-year-old American combined superb athleticism with aggressive shot-making to gain an early advantage over the local star.

Contesting her first match since the US Open last September, Barty was understandably rusty in the initial stages of the match.

She surrendered the first break of the match in the third game and while Gauff couldn’t consolidate on that occasion, she persisted to break again in the ninth game. After 48 minutes, the young American calmly served out the set.

Maintaining fearless aggression, Gauff appeared to hold all the momentum as she secured a third break of serve and consolidated to take a 6-4 4-2 lead.

But after saving a breakpoint in the following game, Barty staged a dramatic turnaround.

She gained her own service break against Gauff to level at 4-4, and with a superbly placed forehand winner, secured the 55-minute second set in the 12th game.

“I felt like I just wanted to be really clear on how I wanted to play,” Barty noted in her on-court interview.

“I wanted to continue to play aggressive, keep looking for my forehand and I felt like I went through a 10 or 15 minute period there where I just didn’t execute on my forehand. Just wasn’t quite getting that momentum.”

With a delighted crowd cheering their support, the world No.1 could at last wrestle control. She secured another break to lead 3-1 in the decider, claiming the final five games to secure the dramatic win.

“I felt like I played a pretty good quality match considering it was the first match in a few months,” said Barty.

“Coco played great. She forced me hit a lot of balls tonight and I felt like I got better and better as the match went on. It was nice to come out here and get some court time.”

Recording four aces and just two double faults, Barty saved 12 of the 15 break points she faced in the match.

And while her free-flowing game and champion mindset eventually provided the critical difference, the gracious Australian also credited the crowd for their support.

“It’s felt like an eternity since I’ve been back playing at home and I tell you what, it’s so nice to hear so many kids out here and so many Australian accents because you genuinely miss it when you’re away,” Barty smiled.

“There’s absolutely no place I’d rather be right now than here enjoying my time in Adelaide.”

> READ: Ash Barty in happy place at Adelaide International

Women’s singles, second round
[1] Ash Barty (AUS) d Coco Gauff (USA) 4-6 7-5 6-1

Men’s singles, second round
[WC] Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS)
d [4] Frances Tiafoe (USA) 3-6 7-5 6-1

Men’s doubles, second round
[WC] Aleksander Vukic (AUS)/Edward Winter (AUS) d [7] Harri Heliovaara (FIN)/Lloyd Grasspool (GBR) 6-3 4-6 [10-6]
Marton Fucsovics (HUN)/Tommy Paul (USA) d [5] Matthew Ebden (AUS)/John-Patrick Smith (AUS)  3-6 6-4 [10-7]

Women’s singles, second round
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) v [6] Sofia Kenin (USA)
[WC] Priscilla Hon (AUS) v Victoria Azarenka (BLR)

Women’s singles, quarterfinals
[1] Ash Barty (AUS) v Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) or [6] Sofia Kenin (USA)

VIEW: Full women’s singles draw

Men’s singles, quarterfinals
[WC] Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS)
v Mikael Ymer

 > VIEW: Full men’s singles draw

Women’s doubles, first round
[WC] Priscilla Hon (AUS)/Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz (AUS) v Shelby Rogers (USA)/Heather Watson (GBR) ) 2-6 to finish

Women’s doubles, quarterfinals
[WC]Ash Barty (AUS)/Storm Sanders (AUS) v Leylah Fernandez (CAN)/Erin Routliffe (NZL)

Men’s doubles, quarterfinals
[WC] Aleksander Vukic (AUS)/Edward Winter (AUS) v [4] Tomislav Brikic (BIH)/Santiago Gonzalez (MEX)