Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua reunited for a successful 2017 season, having broken back into the top-10 of the rankings and returning into contention for the Grand Slams once again. The Aussie pairing will look to continue breaking new grounds in the following year, especially after their impressive comeback.
Barty and Dellacqua own a fair 35-13 win-loss record in their comeback season. In their first year together since 2013, they won three WTA titles and also reached their fourth Grand Slam final as a pair. They also earned a couple of notable wins against fellow top doubles teams such as Anna-Lena Groenefeld/Kveta Peschke, Lucie Hradecka/Katerina Siniakova and also WTA Finals champion Timea Babos/Andrea Hlavackova.
They received a wildcard into their home tournament, the Australian Open. Having reached the final four years ago, Barty and Dellacqua reached the quarterfinals after defeating Martina Hingis and Coco Vandeweghe, the fifth seeds, before upsetting Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke in straight sets. After winning the opening set 6-1 against then-number one team of Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic, their game crumbled as the French pairing was just too strong for them. Nevertheless, it was an impressive tournament for the unseeded wildcards, who showed that they are still capable of producing some world-class tennis.
Their good run continued after they strolled to the title at the Malaysian Open without losing a set. Being unseeded, the Australians were ironically the favorites for the title and they certainly lived up to expectations, claiming their first silverware together since 2014.
Another title soon ensued after a disappointing run, with their second triumph of the year coming at the Internationaux de Strasbourg. This time, they faced some tougher competition but eventually lost just one set throughout the week and defeating the acclaimed Chan sisters in the final without facing many problems, giving them the momentum entering the French Open.
At Roland Garros, Barty and Dellacqua were once again unseeded but they received a favorable draw which they were able to take advantage of. Without facing a seeded opponent, they strolled to the semifinals without losing a set and were looking in excellent form. Getting through a thrilling last-four encounter, they defeated Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova for their fourth Major final together, having reached three in 2013 alone. However, their pursuit of glory came to a sudden halt after being thrashed by then-world number one pairing Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova 2-6, 1-6.
They had an impressive grass-court season, having won the title in Birmingham, reaching the final in Eastbourne before concluding their campaign with a quarterfinal run at Wimbledon. Ousting some tricky opponents, Barty and Dellacqua defeated the new and temporary pairing of Chan Hao-ching and Zhang Shuai in the final of the Aegon Classic, prevailing 10-8 in the Champions tie-break.
A run to the final of the Aegon International followed, where the Aussie pairing eased past fellow top-pairings Timea Babos/Andrea Hlavackova and Gabriela Dabrowski/Xu Yi-fan in straight sets. However, their five-match winning streak ended in the hands of Chan Yung-jan/Martina Hingis, falling in a tight two-setter. Another quarterfinal appearance at Wimbledon ensued, ultimately coming up short to eventual champions Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina.
Their last final of the year came at the Connecticut Open, where they sprang a solid run out of nowhere after a loss of form. Barty and Dellacqua were lackluster throughout the second half of the year, but this run was exceptional as they displayed confidence in their games. However, their campaign ended on a disappointing note as they surprisingly fell to Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yi-fan.
Coming into the year with both Barty and Dellacqua ranked outside the top-200, they required a wildcard to enter the main draw of the Brisbane International. Facing the third seeds Abigail Spears and Katarina Srebotnik, they wasted an incredible four match points before falling 17-19 in a Champions tie-break. It was a disappointing start to the year after they wasted multiple opportunities to claim their first win of the year.
Barty and Dellacqua then endured through a tough North American hardcourt swing, falling in the opening round of the BNP Paribas Open before being totally outclassed by the eventual champions Chan Yung-jan and Martina Hingis at the Miami Open. It is worth noting that Chan and Hingis went on to claim nine titles throughout the year and also became the year-end number one team.
They had to wait until August for their next low point of their season, reflecting how strong their first half of the year was. The all-Australian pairing suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Olga Savchuk and Julia Goerges in Toronto before falling to Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova in Cincinnati. Both defeats came unexpected and they failed to capitalize on favorable draws.
Barty and Dellacqua also failed to leave their mark at the US Open, where they had a golden opportunity to fight for the title. They were sent crashing out of the tournament after losing to the unseeded pairing of Shuko Aoyama and Yang Zhaoxuan, with their performance looking really poor.
They also had a poor end to the year after struggling throughout the Asian Swing. With Barty reaching the singles final at the Wuhan Open, that also came with the price of giving a walkover in the doubles competition. Their rout continued when they fell short to Andreja Klepac and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez at the China Open, but the Australian pairing still managed to qualify for the year-end WTA Finals with their impressive results earlier in the year.
Handed a good draw in Singapore, Barty and Dellacqua were unexpectedly sent to the exit door after the opening round at the WTA Finals as they were ousted by eventual finalists Kiki Bertens and Johanna Larsson, being upset in three tight sets and their season ended in a way which they would not have wanted.
Season Grade: B
A strong first half of the year saw Barty and Dellacqua affirm their status as one of the best pairings in the world, and they have also managed to reach a Grand Slam final with a return to the top-10 to complete their successful comeback from a hiatus. However, their struggles towards the latter half of the year undermined their impressive results earlier in the year, but they still managed to be the fourth-ranked team in the world to end the year with.