Ash Barty reaches Wimbledon 2021 second round after wobble

The 25-year-old top seed lost the second set to Spaniard Suarez Navarro before rallying back to take the decisive set comfortably on Tuesday at Wimbledon.

Ashleigh Barty's bid to win Wimbledon, got off to a winning start on Tuesday with a 6-1, 6-7 (1/7), 6-1 victory over Carla Suarez Navarro.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Ashleigh Barty's bid to win Wimbledon, half a century after fellow indigenous Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley won her first singles title, got off to a winning start on Tuesday with a 6-1, 6-7 (1/7), 6-1 victory over Carla Suarez Navarro.

The 25-year-old top seed has never been beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon but two breaks of serve in the first set and then one at 4-4 in the second seemed to have set her up with a routine victory.

However, with errors creeping into Barty's game Spaniard Suarez Navarro broke back and the set went into a tie-break.

READ: Wimbledon 2021: Fourth seed Alexander Zverev eases past qualifier Tallon Griekspoor

Suarez Navarro -- who has only returned to play in recent months after battling cancer -- dominated it and held five set points taking it with the first one 7-6 (7/1).

Barty, though, pulled herself together and played more like the world number one she is in the deciding set.

She showed little sign of the hip injury that forced her to retire from the French Open and made no mistake when holding three match points, taking victory with her first one.

Life in the Wimbledon's COVID-19 bubble is not everyone's cup of tea but women's top seed Ash Barty is happy to reside in at as long as required if it means more Centre Court appearances.

The 25-year-old was handed the prestigious opening slot on Tuesday, usually reserved for women's defending champions. That was because Simona Halep is missing due to injury, but the way Barty played in an eye-catching contest augured well for her chances of claiming the title for the first time.

"The bubble is all worth it to be able to experience moments like today on a beautiful Centre Court," said Barty.

"My first time playing under the Centre Court roof as well. When it was closing, Carla and I both were kind of looking, peaking outside and looking at it. It was just unbelievable.

"To play my first round on there against Carla was awesome. The bubbles are worth it. It's what we have to do to be able to experience this tournament."

Players usually rent private houses and have the freedom of leafy Wimbledon Village but strict COVID-19 protocols mean this year they must all stay in a central London hotel and are only allowed to be there or at the All England Club.

Barty was full of praise for an opponent who made a real match of it on what was an emotional farewell to the All England Club.

Known for her beautiful single-handed backhand, Suarez Navarro was given a rousing ovation as she left the court, with Barty leading the applause.

"It was a privilege more than anything to be able to share the court with Carla," Barty said.

"She's a hell of a competitor, a hell of a fighter. It was a privilege to be able to share that court with her. I hadn't had the opportunity to play Carla.

"She deserves nothing but the best. She's an exceptional person, a great fighter, a great competitor, and very well-loved and respected in the locker room."

- Reuters

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