Ash Barty continues to prove why she’s the most deserving No. 1. The 25-year-old became the first Australian to reach the Wimbledon final on Saturday holding off former champion Angelique Kerber 6-3, 7-6(3).
Barty got off to a strong start breaking the German in her first serving game to eventually go up 3-0.
In the second set, Kerber, who won the 2018 title, made her move, finally breaking Barty to just out to a 5-2 lead. But the 33-year-old couldn’t hold it. Points from dropping the set, Barty ran off 11 straight points to get herself back into the set. And in the breaker, she took the first six points then took four more to put Kerber away.
Barty finished dropping just five points on first serve while hitting 38 winners to just 16 unforced.
“Yeah, it was incredible,” said Barty. “It was just almost a moment of relief, a moment of pure excitement. It was something that I’d never, never knew if I would feel. I think being able to have an opportunity to play in a final here at Wimbledon is incredible.”
Barty is into her fifth final of 2021 and her second Grand Slam final after winning the 2019 French Open.
“I wasn’t sure if it would ever happen honestly,” said Barty who won the Wimbledon juniors in 2011. “I think you have to keep putting yourself in the position. I think Wimbledon for me has been an amazing place of learning. I think 10 years ago I came here for the first time as a junior and learned a lot in that week.
“Probably 2018, 2019 was some of my toughest weeks playing. To come away with our losses in those two tournaments, I learned a hell of a lot from those two times.
“I think a lot of the time your greatest growth comes from your darkest times. I think that’s why this tournament has been so important to me. I’ve learned so much with all my experiences, the good, bad, everything in between I’ve been able to learn from.”
After a poor start to 2021, Kerber found a spark on the grass and had won 10 straight matches until today’s run-in with the World No. 1.
“She is really intelligent player and she knows how to play also with her slice, and then she’s going forward with her forehand,” Kerber said. “She really served well today.
“You see that she has a lot of confidence, that she played a lot of big matches, that she’s the No.1 player in the world right now. But for me it was important to give everything I had on court. Yeah, like I said, she had always, like in the important moment, the better answer.”
In the Saturday title match, Barty will face Karolina Pliskova. The Czech finally translated her big serving into a winning formula on the grass. Pliskova cranked 14 aces and dropped serve just once in a 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 comeback win over No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka.
Pliskova dropped her first set of the event double faulting to the Belarussian to close the first. But the 29-year-old would never face another break point again.
“Coming into this tournament, the dream was to make the second week, of course, because I was not in second week for a while,” Pliskova said. “Never I thought about maybe going into the final.
“After losing the first set, I thought it was going to be super tough to win this match,” Pliskova added. “Then to win two sets in a row with the way how she was serving today. I think she was serving incredible, all my chances she just put amazing serves in. Super proud about the way how I handled the situation out there, the second and third set, and that I served out the match.”
Playing in her first Slam semifinal, Sabalenka was serving just as well, finishing wit 18 aces, but her second serve was a liability and she just couldn’t make headway on the Pliskova serve.
Barty leads Pliskova 4-2 in tour matches winning the last three. Between these two who have ranked No. 1, we’ll have a new Wimbledon champion.
“It’s a final. Anything can happen,” Pliskova said. “I know she has a Grand Slam, but also for her it’s the first Wimbledon final. I think we both have good chances. It’s going to be hopefully a good match to watch as well because with her it’s always interesting. We’re going to see what’s going to happen.”
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