Party’s over! Luksika falls to tough Barty
MELBOURNE: Luksika Kumkhum lost to local favourite Ashleigh Barty 6-2, 6-2 in the women’s singles first round yesterday. The world No.66 Thai got off to a good start winning the first two games. But the 15th seeded Australian won the next six games at Margaret Court Arena. Barty, who lost last week’s Sydney International final to Petra Kvitova after beating top-ranked Simona Halep along the way, broke the Thai’s serve to take a 3-2 lead in the second set. The 22-year-old clinched the match in 57 minutes. Luksika, 25, reached the third round last year for her best ever result in Grand Slam events. After yesterday’s match Barty acknowledged the host nation was desperate for a champion to match past legends but said it did not play on her mind. “We’ve had legends throughout all of tennis history in Australia,” the Australian said. “Australians are hungry for sport. They love it. They’re addicted to it. “I think at this time of the year it always floats around with tennis that they’re looking for an Australian player, in particular, to go deep and have a really good run.” She said she had to concentrate on her own form rather than dwelling on players of the past. “For me, it’s more about focusing on what I can do with my tennis and my game, then going out there on the court and trying to enjoy it, embrace it, and play with freedom,” she said. Australia has some of the greatest tennis players ever, including Margaret Court with a record 24 singles majors, Roy Emerson with 12 and Rod Laver with 11. But Australia’s last female Slam champion was Samantha Stosur, who claimed the US Open in 2011, and the last major won by a male was Lleyton Hewitt’s Wimbledon victory in 2002. No Australian woman has won the title at the year’s first Slam since Christine O’Neil in 1978 and no man since Mark Edmondson in 1976.
Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum.