Ash Barty collected the biggest win of her career upending Karolina Pliskova 7-6(1), 6-3 to win her first Premier Mandatory level event in Miami.
The 22-year-old Barty had never even reached a Premier Mandatory quarterfinal before, but this week she eliminated four straight Top 20 players in succession to become the second straight improbable Mandatory champion this month, after Bianca Andreescu at Indian Wells.
“There are zero expectations,” said Barty. “I think all is it is an opportunity for me to continue to try and get better every day and to enjoy the journey that we’re on.”
Two two battled in a tight first set but the Australian was the better mover and surprisingly, at 5-foot-5, she out-aced the more powerful Pliskova 15 to 6 overall in the match. And she won 86% of her first serves to Pliskova’s 65%.
“It’s always been an important part of my game to allow myself to get in control of points early on,” Barty said of her serve.
Pliskova could be heard telling her coach that she felt tired, and she looked it on court, sometimes not even going for shots.
“I was tired, super tired,” Pliskova admitted. “I think she played well, so it’s completely that I played bad, but on the other hand for sure I could have played better.”
After Barty took the first set, she broke to start the second in a marathon game. And that broke the Czech’s spirit.
Barty, who once quit the sport to play cricket, picks up her fourth career title and she becomes the first Australian winner in Miami. And she is also the 14th different winner on the WTA in 14 events this season. With the win, she’ll move up to a career-high ranking of No. 9 on Monday.
“It’s just been an amazing fortnight, it really has,” Barty added. “We keep putting ourselves in these positions and keep giving myself the opportunity to continue to grow as a person and as a player — I think that’s the most exciting thing.”
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