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'An amazing opportunity for myself and my team', Ashleigh Barty looks ahead to first Grand Slam final

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 8 Jun 2019
  • Ashleigh Barty says she will try to have fun and play with freedom in Saturday's French Open final
  • Barty takes on Czech teenager, Marketa Vondrousova at Roland Garros from 3:00pm local time/ 2:00pm BST
Ashleigh Barty (Photo by: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA)

Australia's Ashleigh Barty has described Saturday's French Open final as an 'amazing opportunity', and says will try to enjoy the occasion and play with freedom.

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Barty takes in Czech teenager, Marketa Vondrousova in the championship match at Roland Garros on Saturday. 

"It's an amazing opportunity for myself and my team. We have worked so hard to put ourselves in these positions. Now, we get to go out there and really enjoy it”, Barty said. 
"That's the only way to approach it is to go out and enjoy it, have fun, try and play with freedom. That's ultimately when I play my best tennis and that's what we are after."

Barty's best tennis is a thing of beauty- she generates good pace off her serve and forehand, but she is also a very clever, crafty operator, blessed with a wonderful slice backhand and deft hands, making her very competent in the forecourt.

She could not consistently find her best tennis in the semi-finals against Amanda Anisimova, but she found it for long enough to dig out a 6-7 6-3 6-3 victory over the young American on Friday.

In very difficult conditions on Court Suzanne-Lenglen, Barty opened up a 5-0 lead, but she then conceded 10 of the next 11 games (including the opening set tie break) to trail 6-7 0-3. The roller-coaster continued as she won six games in a row to take the second set, before coming back from a break down in the final set to close out a topsy-turvy contest on her sixth match point.

"I'm just proud of myself the way I was able to fight and scrap and hang in there and find a way when I kind of threw away that first set," Barty said of her fight back.

Barty's story is a quite remarkable one- she was a talented junior, reaching No. 2 in the junior rankings, and winning the Wimbledon Girls' title in 2011, but with a seemingly promising career in front of her, Barty, then aged just 18, stepped away from the sport in September 2014, as the pressure and expectations at such a young age became a bit too much for her.

The Australian, who played professional cricket during her 18-month break from tennis, returned to the sport in 2016, and she has grown from strength to strength over the last three years, fulfilling all the potentials she showed as a junior. Barty had worked her way into the top 300 by the end of the 2016 season, and incredibly, she rocketed into the top 20 in 2017, after claiming her first tour-level singles title in Kuala Lumpur, and making marquee finals in Birmingham and Wuhan. She consolidated her top-20 position in 2018, winning a couple of titles in Nottingham and Zhuhai, ending the year at a career-high 15th.

Barty has accelerated in 2019, winning her maiden Premier Mandatory title at the Miami Open, breaking into the top 10, and now, reaching her maiden Grand Slam final. Her run to the French Open final also makes her the first woman to hit the 30-win mark this season. 

Regardless of whatever happens in Saturday's final against Vondrousova, the Australian is guaranteed a new career-high mark of No. 3 in the world when the new rankings are released next Monday. She will reach No. 2 if she wins the title.

Can she crown a wonderful fortnight by lifting the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen?

Barty vs Vondrousova is live from Roland Garros on Saturday, 8 June from 3:00pm local time/ 2:00pm BST. Read the full match preview.

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"An amazing opportunity for myself and my team", Ashleigh Barty looks ahead to first Grand Slam final

Ashleigh Barty says she will try to have fun and play with freedom in Saturday's French Open final

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