World No.1 Angelique Kerber came through a testing opening outing in 2017, seeing off Ashleigh Barty to reach the quarterfinals of the Brisbane International.
WTA Staff

BRISBANE, Australia - World No.1 Angelique Kerber came through a testing opening outing of 2017, seeing off Ashleigh Barty in three sets to reach the quarterfinals of the Brisbane International.

While the home crowd gave reigning Australian Open champion Kerber a warm welcome, World No.271 Barty did not follow suit, making a mockery of her lowly ranking to push Kerber all the way. In the end, though, Kerber's class shone through, closing out a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 victory to set up a quarterfinal showdown with Elina Svitolina.

"It's always tough to play a match after such a long break, and Ashleigh was playing very well from the first point," Kerber said. "It's always different starting the year, and the first matches are always tough.

"You have to get again into the rhythm and play a lot of matches to feel your game."

Barty, who will not turn 21 until April, is already embarking on her second ascent of the tennis ladder. After a glittering junior career, she enjoyed instant success in the senior ranks, reaching three major doubles finals alongside fellow Australian Casey Dellacqua.

However, the stresses of life on tour soon took its toll on her teenage mind and body, prompting a 17-month hiatus. She has played sparingly since returning but reveled in the atmosphere created by another packed Pat Rafter Arena, playing some sparkling tennis to extend her esteemed opponent. Ultimately, her lack of match sharpness told, Kerber preying on the rising number of unforced errors to establish a decisive third-set lead.

"I'm really, really pleased with the form, a bit disappointed we didn't win but very good things came out of it," Barty said. "It's the start of good things to come hopefully. I'm a more developed player this time around."

Kerber was full of praise for her opponent, whom she expects to only improve: "Working hard and playing like she did tonight I'm sure she will have great results.

"She played so well straight from the first point tonight."