Saturday, July 10, 2021

Let the Barty party begin: Aussie wins Wimbledon

Ashleigh Barty defeated Karolina Pliskova in three sets today for her second
Grand Slam singles title. 2019 photo by Harjanto Sumali
  Barty is back.
  In a matchup of current and former world No. 1s, Ashleigh Barty defeated Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3 today at Wimbledon for her second Grand Slam singles title.
   Aside from the Australian Open in her home country, Barty hadn't reached a major quarterfinal since winning the 2019 French Open. After advancing to the Melbourne semifinals last year, she skipped the other three majors because of travel concerns during the pandemic.
   Barty walked away from tennis in 2014 for almost two years because of depression and retired from her second-round match in the French Open last month because of a hip injury. 
   "It's been a perfect journey," the gracious Barty said in a postmatch interview after improving to 6-2 against Pliskova. "I wouldn't change a thing. I've been through so much in my career."
   Both Barty and Pliskova played in their second major final and first at Wimbledon. Ultimately, Barty handled the occasion better, winning the first 14 — yes, 14 — points of the match and recovering mentally after getting broken while serving for the championship in the second set. 
   The top-ranked Barty, 25, became the first Australian woman to take the crown since Evonne Goolagong in 1980 and the first women's No. 1 seed to do so since Serena Williams five years ago.
   Barty, the girls champion at the All England Club 10 years ago, wore a dress with a scalloped hem like the one Goolagong wore while winning her first Wimbledon title 50 years ago. Barty's father, like Goolagong, is an Indigenous Australian. After the final, Barty climbed to the players' box to celebrate, as Australian Pat Cash first did in 1987.
   The eighth-seeded Pliskova, 29, fell to 0-2 in major finals. She lost to Angelique Kerber 6-4 in the third set in the 2016 U.S. Open and in the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.
   Neither Barty nor Pliskova, who climbed to No. 1 in 2017, had advanced past the fourth round at Wimbledon until this year. Pliskova now has reached the semifinals or better at every Grand Slam tournament. 
   "It's not that I didn't like Wimbledon, but it was never my favorite place," Pliskova told reporters. "I never played well here. I never felt so good here.
   "But this time, I think it changed a bit the feeling about this tournament, the feeling about the people. The atmosphere there was just incredible today. Also in the matches which I played the last two, three days."
   Barty has yet to advance to the U.S. Open quarterfinals.
   In the third set today, Barty broke for 2-0 on Pliskova's netted putaway forehand volley and held for 3-0. Serving for the championship for the second time at 5-3, Barty saved a break point and triumphed when  Pliskova netted a backhand.
   Barty bolted to a 4-0 lead in the first set and later held at love for the set. She broke at love to lead 2-1 in the second set, but Pliskova returned the favor for 3-3. Barty broke for 6-5 as Pliskova blew a 40-0 lead with a flurry of unforced errors.
   Serving for the championship, Barty flinched herself and was broken at 15. Pliskova led 6-2 in the tiebreaker, but Barty rallied for 4-6 before double-faulting on set point.
   Showing the heart of a champion, Barty quickly put the second set out of her mind and soon was holding the Venus Rosewater Dish. 
   Men's singles final — Top-ranked Novak Djokovic will attempt to tie Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with a record 20 Grand Slam men's singles titles when he faces seventh-seeded Matteo Berrettini of Italy on Sunday at 6 a.m. PDT (ESPN). The hard-serving Berrettini, 25, will play in his first major final. 
   Djokovic is 2-0 against Berrettini, including a 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5 decision in the French Open quarterfinals last month. They will meet on grass for the first time.
   Women's doubles final — No. 3 seeds Hsieh Su-Wei of Chinese Taipei and Elise Mertens of Belgium saved two championship points in a 3-6, 7-5, 9-7 victory over unseeded Veronika Kudermetova and Elena Vesnina of Russia. 
   Kudermetova and Vesnina, who ended a three-year maternity leave in March, served for the title once in the second set and once in the third set. Hsieh and Mertens saved the championship points in the second set.
   Hsieh won her third Wimbledon women's doubles title and Mertens her first.
   Mertens and Kudermetova are entered in singles in the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, Aug. 2-8 at San Jose State University. Mertens reached the singles semifinals of the inaugural (2018) Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic.
   Men's doubles final — No. 1 seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic of Croatia beat No. 4 seeds Marcel Granollers of Spain and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina 6-4, 7-6 (5), 2-6, 7-5. 
   Pavic, 28, earned his third Grand Slam men's doubles title (but first at Wimbledon) and Mektic, 32, his first. The 35-year-old Granollers, a singles finalist in the 2018 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger, fell to 0-4 in major men's doubles finals. 

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