ZHUHAI, China - Needing a two-set win to keep her chances of qualifying for the semifinals at the Hengqin Life WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai, Ashleigh Barty did just that.
The Aussie No.1 defeated Caroline Garcia, 6-3, 6-4, in Orchid Group action on Thursday to improve to 1-1 in group play and 2-2 in sets played.
"I looked after my service games, and was able to make a lot of returns and put a lot of pressure on Caroline's service games," Barty assessed after the match.
"I think [I went] out there with a bit of freedom. I was in a bit of a win-win situation. I go out there and can play well, play with freedom. If I lose, I go home and it's the end of season. I could go out there and just kind of play my style."
Playing for the first time since a dramatic 6-7(3), 7-6(4), 6-2 final at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open last fall, in which Barty served for the match twice, the World No.19 broke serve early in each set and never looked back.
She took the lead for good in the opener with a break of serve in the fourth game, and did the same in the second set with a second break in the third game.
Barty was never threatened on serve over the course of the one hour and 16 minute encounter, as she served five aces and never faced a break point in the match.
The Aussie won 79 percent of points played on her first serve and 70 percent of the points behind her second to ensure that she would - at the very least - finish her season with a win..
"It's out of my hands. I think we've had an amazing season. A really nice end to the season to be able to come away with a win today," she added.
"I'll just have to sit back and watch tomorrow and worry about whether we're here for an extra day or not. I'm certainly pleased with the year that we've had and really nice to finish on a positive note today."
The US Open champion in doubles, Barty nonetheless qualified for both year-end championships for the second straight year.
She reached the semifinals in Singapore alongside CoCo Vandeweghe before losing to eventual champions Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos.
"It was exciting to qualify for both the second year in a row. It was very nice to wake up to that email on Saturday morning while I was home saying that I had qualified here," she said.
"I mean, what a finish to the season, to be able to compete in both finals events for two years in a row, which is pretty exciting. I think it was not just a reward for me, but also for my team. All of the hard work, the effort that we've put in, and the consolidation that we've had this year in staying in the Top 20, and Top 10 in doubles."