Party’s over! Luk­sika falls to tough Barty

Bangkok Post - - SPORTS -

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.

AFP

Thai­land’s Luk­sika Kumkhum.

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