Ash Barty Wins More Fans With Very Gracious Response To Defeat

Australia’s Ash Barty has lost 6-3 2-6 3-6 in the fourth round at Wimbledon to American Alison Riske, in a result nobody saw coming.

Barty was dominant in the first set and looked every inch the world number one player against the 29-year-old world number 55, who has had a solid but unspectacular career, never progressing to a Grand Slam quarterfinal before today.

But the momentum of the match changed. Riske was playing flawless tennis. When she hit down the line, it landed right next to the line. When she hit deep, the ball landed on the baseline. This was absolute precision tennis and eventually, the Aussie started to crack.

Photo: Getty

Famously, Barty had cracked mid-match once or twice in the French Open when she appeared to be in cruise control early. In those matches, she recovered.

But in this match, the wheels slowly fell off. Her first serve, which yielded so much success in the first set, fell apart to the point that she ended up serving at just 53 percent for the match.

Other shots started hitting the net, or going wide. And Riske just kept hitting to the corners with uncanny precision.

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In the end, Barty looked a little tired -- perhaps not physically, but mentally.

But Australia can be proud. This was no capitulation. This was just an admirable young champion having a bad day out against an opponent playing the match of her life. That happens.

In her post-match press conference, Barty was gracious in defeat, saying she "lost to a better player".

"I was sticking to how I wanted to play, then in the second set I think my serve let me down," she said.

"I let Alison get back in the match too many times looking at second serves."

She also said that losing a tennis match wasn't "the end of the world", which it certainly wasn't. It was, however, the end of an 15-match unbeaten run stretching across three tournaments.