Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua posing with their title in Kuala Lumpur | Photo: Stanley Chou/ AsiaPac
The all-Australian pairing of Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua has successfully qualified for the year-end WTA Finals held in Singapore after a stellar season with some consistent results, marking their first ever appearance for either player (Dellacqua qualified in 2015 but withdrew due to a concussion) at the elite tournament.
Barty and Dellacqua first paired up back in 2013, when Barty was an unknown 17-year-old junior but partnered up with her experienced compatriot for doubles. Impressively, they stormed to the final in an incredible three Grand Slam events, but falling short in all of them as the Australians were so close, yet so far from their first major. Nonetheless, they claimed their first title together at the Aegon Classic that year.
With Barty taking a break from tennis, the pair split up for a period before reuniting in 2017 when the youngster started to play permanently once again. In 2013, they were just 1300 points short of qualifying for the WTA Finals, with only four teams being able to participate then and having played eight fewer tournaments than the fourth-ranked pairing. Nonetheless, they finally accomplished what they fell short of in 2013, being the third team to qualify for the WTA Finals after Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina, the Wimbledon champions, and Chan Yung-jan/Martina Hingis, the US Open champions.
Notable results this year
Receiving a wildcard into the Brisbane International, they fell in a three-set thriller which ended 17-19 in the match tie-break to the third seeds Abigail Spears and Katarina Srebotnik.
They shrugged off the disappointment of the loss with an impressive run to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, where they received a wildcard into the main draw. Defeating fifth seeds Martina Hingis/Coco Vandeweghe and veterans Anna-Lena Gronefeld/Kveta Peschke, they eventually fell to the then-top pairing in the world Caroline Garcia/Kristina Mladenovic in three sets.
The Australian pairing finally won their first title of the year, triumphing in Kuala Lumpur as the huge favorites despite being unseeded in the International event. Early exits in Indian Wells and Miami were followed by a lengthy break which saw them not participate in the Mutua Madrid Open and Internazionali BNL D’Italia.
Nonetheless, they stormed back with a title in Strasbourg, defeating three of the top four seeds along the way, including the top seeds Chan Hao-ching/Chan Yung-jan. Their good run continued when they reached the final at the French Open, marking their fourth Grand Slam final appearance and thus completing a “Career Grand Slam” in finals. Despite looking in top form, they fell to the top pairing of Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova, winning just three games in the process.
They also had a decent run on grass, claiming the title in Birmingham before reaching the final in Eastbourne. A fifth consecutive quarterfinal saw the Australian pairing fall to eventual champions Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina at the Wimbledon Championships, missing out on a golden opportunity to claim their first Grand Slam title.
The US Hardcourt tournaments were generally a disappointment for Barty/Dellacqua as they were unable to perform consistently, falling to lower-ranked teams on three occasions, most particularly at the US Open where they lost to the unseeded pairing of Shuko Aoyama and Yang Zhaoxuan. Nonetheless, their performances earlier in the year eventually managed to secure them a place in the WTA Finals.
Reactions to their qualification
Dellacqua mentioned, “We are incredibly excited to qualify for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global and are looking forward to competing as one of the Top 8 doubles teams of the season,” Certainly, it is a prestige and honour to be able to be participating in Singapore, showing that you are one of the bests of the best.
Barty added, “It really is a dream to compete at our first WTA Finals and we can’t wait to play in front of the fans in Singapore.” It would be their first ever appearance at the WTA Finals and action in Singapore kicks off on the 23rd of October.
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