Top-ranked Ash Barty ‘pushed to the brink,’ saves match point to edge qualifier Kucova

Forgive Ashleigh Barty, the world’s top-ranked player, if she seemed a little rusty before rallying to beat qualifier Kristina Kucova 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 in her opening Miami Open match Thursday afternoon. That she lasted 2 1/2 hours in 82-degree heat was remarkable considering Barty spent 45 hours in transit to get to Miami from Australia (two flight cancellations) and had not played a match out of her home country since February 2020 due to the pandemic. The 24-year-old chose not to travel outside Australia after the tour resumed last year, skipping the U.S. Open and the rescheduled French Open in…

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