“Gave Myself the Chance to Stay on the Hunt”: Ashleigh Barty on Saving Match Point at Miami Open 2021

Published 03/26/2021, 5:30 AM EDT
Mar 25, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Ashleigh Barty of Australia reacts after match point against Kristina Kucova of Slovakia (not pictured) in the second round of the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports


World Number 1 Ashleigh Barty survived a massive scare on the way to winning her tournament opener at a sun-bathed Miami on Friday.

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The 24-year-old Australian saved a match point against Kristina Kucova of Slovakia before eventually coming away with a nervy 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 win.

Barty says it was her mental strength that helped her “hang in there” when her opponent Kristina Kucova held the aces

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Sharing her thoughts on the game, Barty said that she was happy to have stayed positive through the phase when the match seemed to be slipping away.

The defending champion said her opponent was more of an unknown quantity as she hadn’t played her before.

She added that what stood out for her in the contest was how she trusted and stuck to her game even when her opponent seemed to be holding the aces and eventually found a way to win.

“Overall, (I’m) just really happy that I never gave up and gave myself a chance to stay in the hunt,” the Aussie said.

After breezing through the opening set, Barty suffered a mid-match slump to lose the next. The deciding set was hanging in the balance when the top-seed stared at match point. However, Barty held her nerves to pull back to deuce and seized on an opening thereafter to come through.

It was as much a test of mental strength as it was of skill, and the Aussie cleared both with flying colors.

Mar 25, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Ashleigh Barty of Australia hits a forehand against Kristina Kucova of Slovakia (not pictured) in the second round of the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

“Mentally, you need to stay there to give yourself a chance… Today, I was able to hang in there when I was a bit loose with my tennis,” the World Number 1.

“No matter what…we just never give up”: Ashleigh Barty

Barty added that she was happy with how she managed to stay strong in her head when the momentum was with her opponent and eventually fought her way back.

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Barty said that what sets the top players apart from the rest is how they never give up, even in the face of odds. “No matter what the result, no matter what we’re feeling, no matter what the conditions, we just never give up,” the 24-year-old said.

The 2019 French Open champion will play Latvian Jelena Ostapenko in a round-of-32 clash on Saturday.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

833 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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