Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain, ranked 48th in the world, caused the biggest upset in women’s tennis at the Tokyo Olympic Games, defeating world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia 6-4, 6-3 on the Centre Court in Ariake Tennis Park, here on Sunday.
Using her looping shots to telling effect, and with Ashleigh’s forehand misfiring, Sara overcame the Wimbledon champion with ease as the Australian finished the match with 55 unforced errors.
The 25-year-old Ashleigh, winner of four titles this season, will have to try and win a medal in the doubles competition with partner Storm Sanders, where they are the No. 6 seeds.
“Really disappointing day,” Ashleigh said on the Olympic Channel broadcast afterward. “And I was pretty erratic. But I’m really excited for doubles. … [I still have a chance] to do everyone proud.”
The 24-year-old Sara played well within herself, hitting high looping shots to the Australian’s backhand. Ashleigh’s final unforced error gave the Spaniard her third match point, and she converted it when the Australian pushed a backhand into the net.
In March this year, Sara had won her first career title in Guadalajara. She has also reached two WTA 250 semifinals and the Miami quarterfinals.
Sara will next face France’s Fiona Ferro, who beat Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, in the second round.
“It’s amazing,” Sara said after the match. “I cannot believe it. It’s something I have been dreaming about all my life. I cannot say how happy I am.”
By beating Ashleigh, Sara has upset the formbook, and No.2 seed, Japan’s Naomi Osaka, and No.3 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus are now the favourites.
Coming off a run to the Wimbledon final, No.5 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic ended France’s Alize Cornet’s Olympic dream with a 6-1, 6-3 win in the opening round.
It was the fourth consecutive win for Karolina over the 31-year-old from France. Karolina will next face the winner of the match between Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur and Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro.
No.3 Aryna Sabalenka was almost as swift, sending home Poland’s Magda Linette 6-1, 6-2 in 69 minutes. Aryna will play the winner of the match between France’s Caroline Garcia and Croatia’s Donna Vekic in the second round.
America’s best hope for a singles medal, No.11 seed Jennifer Brady, fell to Italy’s Camila Giorgi 6-3, 6-2. Camila broke the Australian Open finalist three times on her way to a second-round match against the winner between Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko and ROC’s Elena Vesnina.
In other action, Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska advanced to the second round when Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan retired after losing the first set 7-6 (4) but leading 3-1 in the second.