Tagged in: Ash Barty

Defending champ Ash Barty returns to Miami Open final

In her first match at this year’s Miami Open, Ash Barty was one point from elimination.

Now she’s one win from becoming a repeat champion. The top-ranked Barty returned to the final by defeating No. 5-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-3 on Thursday.

Barty has gained momentum after starting the tournament by saving a match point versus qualifier Kristina Kucova. That was Barty’s first match outside her native Australia since February 2020.

“Whenever you come back from a match point, it’s a little bit of a strange feeling,” Barty said. “You have to be more open with what the possibilities the rest of the tournament could be, and keep going out there and keep fighting, knowing you could have just as easily been out of the tournament.”

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Barty, who is assured of maintaining her No. 1 ranking next week, will play for the title Saturday versus the winner of the second semifinal between No. 8 Bianca Andreescu and No. 23 Maria Sakkari.

Barty was locked down for a year in Australia because of the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the cancellation of the 2020 Miami Open. She won the event in 2019, and said her run to that title was different from this year’s matches in Miami.

“Chalk and cheese,” the Aussie said. “The conditions have been different here this week. It has been a lot warmer and physically very demanding.”

Barty had been 1-5 previously against Svitolina, but took charge with two early breaks and used her strong serve and deep slices to keep the Ukrainian on the defensive.

Midway through the second set, Svitolina made a rare trip to the net, and Barty responded with a perfect lob winner that drew an appreciative pat of the racket strings from her opponent. On match point, Barty closed out the triumph with a forehand winner and a fist pump.

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Australian Barty named WTA Player of the Year

As 2019 winds down, Australia’s Ash Barty has added another accolade to cap off a stunning season, being named the Women’s Tennis Association’s (WTA) player of the year.

Barty picked up 82 percent of the media vote to get the award, which has of course been won by some of the biggest names in tennis, like Serena Williams (five times), Steffi Graf (eight times) and Martina Navratilova (seven times)

The world number one started the year by reaching the final in Sydney, when she was ranked a then-career-high 15th in the world, and it only got better from there.

She captured her first grand slam title at the French Open, which was one of six tournament finals she reached this year.

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On top of the Roland Garros crown, she scooped the biggest pay packet in tennis history by winning the WTA Finals last month, ending a year that also included titles at Birmingham and Miami.

All told, the 23-year-old won 57 matches on tour in 2019, which was the most by any women’s player.

It all conspired to help her become Australia’s first women’s world number one since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976.

Earlier in the week, Barty picked up three Australian Institute of Sport Performance Awards (ASPAs) — female athlete of the year, ABC sport personality of the year and the sporting moment of the year.

“We are a sporting nation, we love it and it is in our blood, so to receive the votes and the support from the public is amazing,” she said after receiving the ASPAs.

A little over two weeks ago she also acquired the Newcombe Medal as Australia’s best tennis player for the third straight year.

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France beats Australia 3-2 to capture Fed Cup

Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic combined to defeat Ash Barty and Sam Stosur to conquer the 2019 Fed Cup title for France.

With scores locked at 2-2 after Ajla Tomljanovic’s singles victory and the tie requiring a decisive doubles rubber, the Frenchwomen defeat the Aussies 6-4 6-3 at RAC Arena to seal victory.

It is France’s first Fed Cup title since 2003, while Australia’s wait for a trophy in the team competition extends to a 46th year.

Mladenovic was the star of the French team, winning both her singles rubbers — including a stunning defeat of world No.1 Barty earlier on Sunday — and the doubles to go a perfect 3-0 in Perth.

For Garcia, it was redemption after being trounced 6-0 6-0 by Barty on the opening day of the tie. “I’m the proudest man on the planet right now. I’m so proud of my girls and the team — they deserve it because they fought for a long time for this title,” said French captain Julien Benneteau.

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“It’s a dream for me — I tried to imagine that at the beginning of the year when I knew that I could have the best team with me on the court.

“Eight months later, here we are.”

Barty and Stosur broke the Frenchwomen right away and held in the next game to establish a 2-0 lead.

Yet despite a slow start, Garcia and Mladenovic quickly settled into the contest, communicating brilliantly and frequently defeating the Aussies with pace.

Barty and Stosur were unable to combine as effectively, often slow and reactive as Garcia and Mladenovic pulled off a succession of winners from both the back of the court and at the net.

The French pairing, Roland Garros champions in 2016, pocketed the first set and surged ahead 2-0 in the second.

Despite the Aussies earning two break points at 15-40, Garcia erased them both with scorching passing shot winners.

Stosur served to keep the Australians alive, and together she and Barty staved off two match points and eventually held for 3-5. But with the ultra-confident Mladenovic stepping up to the line to serve for the title, the French were in safe hands.

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