LONDON: World number one Ashleigh Barty paid credit to her last 16 conqueror Alison Riske but admitted the 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 defeat was “tough to swallow”.

The 23-year-old Australian, who could lose her number one ranking to the Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova, looked on course to keep her hopes up of becoming the first Australian women’s Wimbledon champion since Evonne Goolagong Cawley won her second crown in 1980 after taking the first set.

However, her American opponent stormed back and Barty, who had strolled through the first week without a problem, had no answer.

US player Alison Riske returns against Australia’s Ashleigh Barty. Photo: AFP

“It is a tough one to swallow but I lost to a better player,” said Barty.
“When her back is against the wall, she plays really well typically.”

Barty, who was the first Australian woman to be ranked world number one since Goolagong Cawley, said overall she was ecstatic at the journey she had been on this year, winning the French Open and getting to the top of the rankings.
“Overall it’s been a hell of a trip,” she said.

“Disappointed right now. In the same breath, it’s been an incredible few months.
“New ground for me here at Wimbledon. This is the best we’ve (her and her team) done (she had never reached the fourth round in singles before).

“Yeah, very proud of what we’ve been able to achieve.”
Barty, who returned rejuvenated to the sport after a spell playing cricket, said in stark contrast to her predecessor Japan’s Naomi Osaka that being number one had not changed her or added pressure.

“I think for me personally, no, I haven’t lived my life any differently,” she said.
“There’s a little bit more attention, a few more of you guys here in the press rooms.
“Look, I mean, for me, nothing has really changed.”

“I think it’s been a really, really positive couple of months for us.” – AFP