Ashleigh Barty raises Australian Open hopes after victory at Adelaide International
World No 1 next aims to end a 42-year wait for a homegrown winner of the season's first grand slam
Ashleigh Barty ended a nine-year wait for an Australian title winner on home soil with victory in the Adelaide International final, raising hopes that the world No 1 can end an even longer wait for a home champion at the Australian Open.
Barty, 23, defeated Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska 6-2, 7-5 on Saturday for her first trophy of the season, becoming the first Australian woman to win a title in Australia since Jarmila Wolfe won Hobart in 2011.
Barty beat 24th-ranked teenager Yastremska in 87 minutes at Memorial Drive to gain plenty of confidence heading into Monday's start of the Australian Open in Melbourne, where she is top seed.
She was presented the carved wood trophy by a painted Aboriginal elder who blessed it with a chant it before it was handed over.
"The best part about this week is I fought and scrapped my way through and got better and better in each situation, in each match," Barty said.
"I just put myself in the position to play for another title, which is really exciting. It's been incredible to play at home... I can't wait to get started in Melbourne next week."
Barty will take to the court at Rod Laver Arena on Monday night.
"It's going to be exciting and a fresh tournament ... I have to start with my clean slate for the Australian Open, I'm looking forward to that first round," she said.
Barty will need to end a much longer Australian title drought at Melbourne Park. It has been 42 years since Chris O'Neill won the title at Kooyong in 1978 to be the most recent homegrown player to clinch the Australian Open title.
Red hot Rublev
In the men's draw, Andrey Rublev set a record of his own as the Russian crushed South African qualifier Lloyd Harris 6-3, 6-0 in 57 minutes to win the title.
Rublev, who lifted the Doha trophy last weekend, is the first man since Dominik Hrbaty in 2004 to win two titles in the first two weeks of a season.
The Russian has not lost a match since November - 12 in a row - and stands 8-0 this season.
"I don't how I've done this," Rublev said of his back-to-back double. "It seems amazing to me. I'm so happy with who I've been playing these two weeks, I've really enjoyed my tennis a lot.
"Lloyd and I are the same age but we never played in juniors, so this was our first time. I know how much he also wanted to win.
"I knew this match would be really tough and I'm so happy I won."
Updated: January 18, 2020 02:52 PM