Ash Barty got off to a perfect start in the Wimbledon final by racking up the first 14 points, then had to delay a comeback bid before beating Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3 for her second Grand Slam title on Saturday in London, England.
The top-seeded Barty adds this championship to the one she won at the French Open in 2019.
She is the first Australian woman to win the singles trophy at the All England Club since Evonne Goolagong in 1980. Barty says she was inspired by Goolagong and wore an outfit at Wimbledon that paid tribute to the dress Goolagong played in when she won the award . tournament for the first time in 1971.
Barty, who is 25, was the junior champion at Wimbledon ten years ago and left the tennis tour in 2014 for nearly two years due to a burnout. She played professional cricket at home and eventually decided to return to her other sport.
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She was at her best at the start of each set against eighth-seeded Pliskova, a 29-year-old from the Czech Republic with a big serve.
Pliskova dropped to 0-2 in grand finals; she was also runner-up at the 2016 US Open.
Barty’s main wobble came late in the second set. She served for the win with a 6-5 lead, but sailed for consecutive forehands only to be broken before being shaky in the ensuing tiebreak, which she gave up with a double fault.
In the third, however, Barty took an early break, led 3-0 and stayed on track in the first women’s Wimbledon final to win three sets since 2012. It was also the first since 1977 between two contestants who have never gone that far. had been to the All England Club.
Neither Barty nor Pliskova made it past the fourth round on the grass course major until these two weeks.
The game was played under overcast skies and with the retractable roof of the Center Court open, despite forecasted rain for much of the afternoon. Due to the threat of showers, Barty and Pliskova shared a warm-up session under the roof at No. 1 Court earlier in the day, sometimes side by side as they fired shots.
They laughed and chatted while tossing the coins for the final, but once things got serious, Barty didn’t mess around for a second.
From the start, there was no trace of unease or uncertainty for Barty. Her strokes were confident. Her behavior too. In the opening game that made her 3-0, love-30 and, after Pliskova finally won a few points, 4-0 after 11 minutes, Barty showed all her versatility and varied skills.
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She answered Pliskova’s quick serves – the ones that yielded a tournament-high 54 aces on Saturday – without any effort. She lobbed Pliskova, who at his 1.80m is an inch taller than the 1.80m tall Barty, to win a point. She hit winners with her heavy topspin forehand and set others up with her slashed backhands. She threw in an ace herself and actually ended up over Pliskova, 7-6.
The most important statistic at the finish was probably this: Barty won 22 out of 31 points taking nine strokes or more.
Rhythm of 1st set odd
As balls flew past Pliskova and the buzz in the packed stands reached a crescendo – “What’s going on? Is she going to win a point?” – she watched with little more reaction than a blank stare. Sometimes she stuffed her racket strings as if she wanted to be somewhere else.
Pliskova’s coach, Sascha Bajin, who previously worked with Naomi Osaka and was previously Serena Williams’ batting partner, sat in the guest box above one baseline with arms crossed and brows furrowed.
Even after Pliskova put things in order, the rhythm of the first set was strange: a total of six games were won with love.
Pliskova finally got the measure of her shots in the second set, in which she was two break behind before pulling it out.
That could have scared Barty. But here’s the thing: She speaks clearly about the fact that she’s never let her down too much, including the hip injury that dropped her from the French Open last month and prevented her from her usual preparation for Wimbledon.
And so, with her typical grit, Barty managed to return to the more stable version of herself on the piece against Pliskova. When given a second chance to serve it out, Barty didn’t flinch, even when she had to stare at a breaking point.
A missed backhand from Pliskova removed that threat and Barty then delivered an ace of 108 mph. A final backhand miss by Pliskova ended the match and Barty crouched near the baseline and covered her face with her arm.