Australia’s Ashleigh Barty clinched her maiden Wimbledon title in style, beating Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 in the women’s singles final at the Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in London today.
She won the opening set comfortably, but lost the second, with Pliskova prevailing 7/4 in the tie-breaker. In fact, Barty could have ended the match in two sets, serving at 6-5 in the second. But consecutive long forehands ensured a tie-breaker, which she conceded with a double fault.
The world no. 1, however, bounced back to take the deciding set to clinch her maiden Wimbledon title.
It’s the second Grand Slam for Barty, having won the 2019 French Open title. She is the first Australian woman to win the singles trophy at the All England Club since Evonne Goolagong in 1980.
It also was the first since 1977 between two participants who never had been that far at the All England Club. Neither Barty nor Pliskova made it past the fourth round at the grass-court major until this fortnight.
The match was played under a cloud-filled sky and with Centre Court's retractable roof open despite rain in the forecast for much of the afternoon.
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Right from the get-go, there was not a hint of uneasiness or uncertainty for Barty. Her strokes were confident. Her demeanour, too. During the match-opening run that put her up 3-0, love-30 and, after Pliskova finally won a couple of points, 4-0 after 11 minutes, Barty showed of every bit of her versatility and varied skills.
She returned Pliskova's speedy serves - the ones that produced a tournament-high 54 aces entering Saturday - without any trouble. She lobbed Pliskova, who at 6-foot-1 is 8 inches taller than the 5-foot-5 Barty, to win a point. She hit winners with her heavy topspin forehand and set up others with her sliced backhands. She threw in an ace of her own, and actually finished with more than Pliskova, 7-6.
The key stat by the finish probably was this: Barty won 22 of 31 points that lasted nine strokes or more.
Even after Pliskova straightened things out, the rhythm of the first set was odd: A total of six games were won at love.
Pliskova finally got the measure of her strokes in the second set, in which she twice trailed by a break before pulling it out.
That could have shaken Barty. Except here's the thing: She speaks clearly about never letting anything get her too down, including the hip injury that knocked her out of the French Open last month and prevented her from her usual preparation for Wimbledon.
And so, with her typical grit, Barty managed to get back to the steadier version of herself down the stretch against Pliskova. When she got a second chance to serve it out, Barty didn't flinch, even when she had to stare down a break point.
A missed backhand by Pliskova removed that threat, and Barty then delivered a 108mph ace. One last backhand miss from Pliskova ended the match, and Barty crouched at the baseline and covered her face with her arm.
(With PTI inputs)