MELBOURNE: World number one Ash Barty made the perfect start to her 2021 season when she outfought Spain's Garbine Muguruza 7-6(3) 6-4 to win the Yarra Valley Classic Australian Open warm-up tournament on Sunday.
Playing her first tournament for almost a year, the 24-year-old Australian had to wrestle back two breaks of serve to win a tight opening set in a tiebreak on Margaret Court Arena.
Barty still had to work hard in the second set but she broke Muguruza for 5-4 and served out to claim her second WTA title on home soil, sealing the victory with a well-judged lob over the Spaniard into the backcourt.
Former French Open and Wimbledon champion Muguruza had conceded only 10 games in four matches on her way to the final but made errors under pressure and was no match for Barty in the clutch moments.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)