LONDON, Great Britain – It was almost an upset when fourth seed Elina Svitolina beat Ashleigh Barty in the first round of Wimbledon.
The Australian’s magnificent form on grass so far this year, including a run to the final of the Aegon Classic in Birmingham, led to many observers expecting her to upset the rankings and knock out the Ukrainian.
It wasn’t to be, as Svitolina came through 7-5, 7-6, but the World No.56 is sanguine.
“I made a few too many errors today, especially off my forehand,” she told reporters after a contest in which she saved five match points. "But sometimes that’s how it goes.”
Barty found out she had been drawn against Svitolina when she received a text from her coach – but she was in the midst of preparing for the doubles final at the Aegon International with Casey Dellacqua, so did not have too much time to think about the prospect.
“We saw it as an opportunity, but I think anyone I drew, I was going to see it as an opportunity,” she said. “Today it didn’t quite come off for me.”
Barty returned to the Tour in February 2016 after a break in which she successfully tried another elite sport – cricket. She now finds herself with an increased band of supporters as her former team-mates and opponents cheer her on.
Mel Jones, in England for the Women’s Cricket World Cup, tweeted early on Monday that she would be gathering a group of Australian cricketers around her television to watch Barty’s progress.
Barty will be returning the favor as Australia continue their progress in the group stages of the tournament.
“I love following the cricket girls!” said Barty. “Some are very good mates of mine. As soon as I get back to Australia I think we’ll all go out for a coffee – or a beer. Something like that. It’s really nice to have the support from the girls.”
In the meantime, she will continue to enjoy her tennis in a way she had not previously. She wonders whether part of it is maturity and simply getting used to the lifestyle of a tennis professional.
“It’s a very different lifestyle to what people think,” she said. “I think I’m learning to enjoy the lifestyle and embrace the lifestyle a little bit more.”
Visit www.wimbledon.com to watch live streaming via ‘The Wimbledon Channel’.