Ashleigh Barty: 'It's been a hell of a week'
DESPITE falling at the final hurdle, Ashleigh Barty has described her run at the Wuhan Open as arguably the best week of her tennis career.
The Queenslander went on a giant-killing run in the Chinese city - though not her first this year - before ultimately being beaten by Caroline Garcia in the final, 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/4), 6-2.
Barty pushed the world No.20 in the first two sets and looked poised to claim the title after winning the first-set tie-break, coming back from being a break down.
She then served for the match twice in the second set, but failed to capitalise as the Frenchwoman took control and the win.
Barty,now up to No.37 in the world, had been contesting her first ever Premier 5 level final.
The 21-year-old from Ipswich said it had been "a hell of a week, probably the best week of my tennis career”.
"My first serve deserted me a bit but I put myself in a position where I was only a few points away from the final,” said Barty.
"Disappointing to not come away with it in the end but sometimes it crumbles that way,” she added.
It was the first professional meeting between the pair though Garcia beat Barty on her way to the 2011 US Open girls' final.
"It was such a fight all week and especially today,” Garcia said.
Barty, who began the year ranked outside the top 300 after a break from the game which included a stint playing cricket with the Brisbane Heat, thrashed French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko in the semi-finals.
It followed wins over former world No.1 Karolina Pliskova, Agnieszka Radwanska, seeded nine, and Johanna Konta, the fifth seed, during a dream run.
Barty beat Venus Williams at the Cincinnati Open in August - her first win over top-10 opposition.