Australian teenager Ashleigh Barty may have been a doubles success in 2013 but showed why singles is still her priority at the Brisbane International.
Playing singles is still three-time grand slam doubles finalist Ashleigh Barty’s priority.
And few could argue with her decision after watching the 17-year-old Australian dig deep to qualify for the Brisbane International women’s singles main draw on Sunday.
Barty would have been forgiven for thinking twice about her options after a breakthrough 2013 with doubles partner Casey Dellacqua.
Despite teaming up just weeks before earning a wildcard Australian Open entry in January, the pair made three grand slam finals.
In a total of eight events together, Dellacqua and Barty were runners-up in the US and Australian Opens as well as Wimbledon.
They were the first Aussie women’s pair to reach the US Open final since Wendy Turnbull and Kerry Melville Reid in 1978.
Still, Barty was not tempted to neglect singles – and the hard work appears to already be paying dividends based on her gutsy three-sets win over Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens.
The 17-year-old world No.190 came back from 0-3 down in the third set and saved five match points before winning 2-6 6-3 7-5 in the final round of qualifying.
She booked a first round showdown with former world No.5 and 2012 Brisbane finalist Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia and a likely second round clash with former world No.1 Maria Sharapova.
“Yeah, definitely for Casey and I the priority is still singles,” Barty said.
“It was just amazing that we had great doubles success.
“I think again this year we’ll both be playing singles and try and work out a schedule where we can play doubles in a few tournaments.”
Barty couldn’t contain her excitement after her memorable win over the world No.87.
“Served 4 aces in a row today… Kinda cool,” she tweeted.
She will fly the flag in the Brisbane singles alongside wildcard Dellacqua after two fellow Australians failed to survive the cut-throat qualifying event.
In the final qualifying round, Jarmila Gajdosova – a former Brisbane quarter-finalist – bowed out to Briton Heather Watson 6-4 6-4 while Anastasia Rodionova was ousted 6-4 6-3 by Russian Alla Kudryavtseva.
In the main draw, 22-year-old Australian Olivia Rogowska lost in the first round 6-3 7-5 to 43-year-old world No.74 Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan.
In other first round results, Wimbledon finalist and world No.15 Sabine Lisicki of Germany cruised passed Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova 6-3 6-4 and former world No.9 Andrea Petkovic ousted American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-4 7-5 .
Meanwhile, former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki withdrew with a shoulder injury.
However, the Danish world No.10 was still hopeful of contesting the upcoming Sydney International ahead of the Australian Open starting on January 13.
The sixth seed was replaced in Brisbane’s main draw by lucky loser Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan.