HONG KONG – World number one Ashleigh Barty battled back against Switzerland's Belinda Bencic to make a winning start to the 2019 WTA Finals on Sunday as the Australian notched up a 5-7 6-1 6-2 victory.
Barty lost the opening set in the pair's first-ever meeting but conceded just three games in the remaining two sets in Shenzhen to seal a win guaranteeing that she will end the year as the WTA's top-ranked player, as well as putting her on top of the Red Group in the competition's round robin format.
She is joined by Japan's Naomi Osaka, who defeated Petra Kvitova in three sets in a rematch of their Australian Open final earlier in the season.
"I think it was a pretty high-quality match and it's a difficult court to get rhythm on at times, so it's important to try and neutralise when you can and that was the biggest key in the second and third sets," said Barty.
Bencic took the first set by breaking the Australian in the penultimate game as Barty sent her forehand long from behind the baseline.