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Ashleigh Barty claims biggest career title in Zhuhai: Barty beats Qiang Wang 6-3 6-4 to win WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 4 Nov 2018
  • Ashleigh Barty beats Qiang Wang to win the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai
  • Barty up to a career-high 15th after claiming her biggest career title
Ashleigh Barty. (Photo by Kevin Lee/Getty Images)

Australia's Ashleigh Barty claimed her biggest career title on Sunday when she defeated China's Qiang Wang in the final of the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai. 

Victory in Zhuhai took Barty's career titles to 3, adding to her success in Nottingham earlier in the year, and her victory in Kuala Lumpur last February - her first career title.

It continues a superb return to the sport for Barty, who had taken a break from the sport between 2014 and 2016, trying out some professional cricket during her time off. 

The Australian returned to the sport in the middle of 2016, playing just a handful of tournaments, and moving to 272nd in the world by the end of the year. She surged to a top-20 finish in 2017, following a title run in Kuala Lumpur, a couple of impressive runner-up results in Birmingham and Wuhan, and a semi-final run in Zhuhai, and she has consolidated brilliantly this season, firmly establishing herself as a top 20 player.

"It's been a truly phenomenal year. My goal is to stay top 20 and try and consolidate as best I can. We've been able to do that and come away with a couple of titles, as well, and still being very successful in doubles. It's been a really, really amazing year”, Barty said.

Apart from her titles in Birmingham and Zhuhai, a brilliant 2018 also yielded a final in Sydney, and big Premier-level semi-finals in Montreal and Wuhan.

The 22-year-old lost 6-4 6-4 to Aryna Sabalenka in her Zhuhai opener, but she responded with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Caroline Garcia. With qualification out of her hands in a tense final day of the round-robin phase, she required a little bit of luck to get through. If Sabalenka had taken a set off Garcia in the Group's final match, Barty would be out. If Garcia had conceded less than eight games, Barty would be out. As it turned out, Garcia won 6-4 6-4, sending the Aussie into the last four.

Barty took down last year's champion, Julia Goerges 4-6 6-3 6-2 in the semi-finals, before outlasting Wang 6-3 6-4 in Sunday's final.

Ashleigh Barty beat Qiang Wang to claim the Zhuhai title.(Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images)
Wang had initially been knocked out of Zhuhai after finishing second behind Madison Keys in her group, but she earned a bit of luck as Keys withdrew from the tournament just before her semifinal against Garbine Muguruza. 

Drafted into the semis as a result, Wang made the most of her good fortune, breezing past Muguruza 6-2 6-0 to take her place in Sunday's final.

Bringing her vaunted variety- especially off the backhand wing- to the table, Barty made life very uncomfortable for the local favourite at the start, jumping out to a 4-0 lead.

However, Wang soon settled, and got both breaks back by predominantly going after Barry's forehand, but she surrendered her serve again at 3-4, leaving Barty to serve out the set, which she duly did.

Just one break decided a tight second set, and it went to Barty in the seventh game, with the Australian capitalizing on a rash of errors from her opponent to open up a 4-3 lead. There were no further break points in the match, as Barty went on to close out the win after an hour and 23 minutes.

Despite the loss, Wang moves into the top 20 for the first time in her career, while Barty also ends the year at a career-high ranking of 15.

“Now we get to go home to celebrate that and then prepare for bigger and better things in 2019, starting with the Australian summer", the champion said.

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Ashleigh Barty claims biggest career title in Zhuhai: Barty beats Qiang Wang 6-3 6-4 to win WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai

Ashleigh Barty claimed her biggest career title with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Qiang Wang at the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai.

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