Ashleigh Barty’s bold bid to complete a dream comeback to tennis with Wimbledon qualification has ended in disappointment.
Australia’s former teenage prodigy faded to a 3-6 6-4 6-2 loss to Luksika Kumkhum in the second round of qualifying at Roehampton on Wednesday.
Barty appeared on track to move to within one tantalisingly win of a coveted spot in the main draw after taking the opening set before losing six straight games as the seasoned Thai seized control.
The 20-year-old – who won the junior girls’ title at the All England Club at just 15 – was appearing at her first grand slam event since the 2014 US Open.
Barty spent 20 months out of the game and a summer stint in cricket with the Brisbane Heat in the WBBL before resuming her professional tennis career last month.
While Barty bombed out, fellow former Wimbledon junior champion Luke Saville and grand slam rookie Matt Barton are each one win away from a place in the main draw after scoring contrasting victories in men’s second-round qualifying action on Wednesday.
Saville battled back from a service break down deep in the third set to squeeze out a 6-4 3-6 8-6 win over Bosnian Aldin Setkic.
Only Germany’s world No.469 Matthias Bachinger stands in the way of Saville qualifying for the second year running.
Eyeing his maiden main-draw appearance at a slam, 24-year-old Barton has a much tougher assignment against Russia’s world No.100 Karen Khachanov after beating Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador 6-3 6-4 .