Ashleigh Barty’s first singles tournament following a 17-month break from tennis has ended in semi-final defeat.
The talented youngster lost in straight sets 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 to top seed Alison Riske at the second-tier ITF tournament on the grass courts of Eastbourne on Thursday.
The loss to the American world No.94 followed comprehensive victories over Austrian world No.122 Tamira Paszek, No.140 Urszula Radwanska and former world No.5 Daniela Hantuchova at the $50,000 event this week.
Barty spent the summer playing cricket for the Brisbane Heat in the women’s Big Bash League as she dealt with the pressure of being Australia’s brightest young female talent.
But her return to tennis has Australian officials excited, and it’s not hard to see why.
Barty had little trouble dispatching players ranked near or above her career-high mark of 129 in the world, which she reached as a 17-year-old in 2013.