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Ashleigh Barty beats Marketa Vondrousova to claim first Grand Slam title at the 2019 French Open

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 8 Jun 2019
  • Ashleigh Barty is the 2019 French Open women's champion
  • Barty beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-1, 6-3 in the Roland Garros final
  • Australia's first French Open champion since Margaret Court in 1973 will be ranked world no. 2 on Monday
Ashleigh Barty with the French Open trophy after defeating Marketa Vondrousova in the final of Roland Garros 2019 (PA Sports)

Ashleigh Barty defeated Marketa Vondrousova in the 2019 French Open final to become a Grand Slam champion for the first time.

Australia's Ashleigh Barty joined the ranks of major champions with an impressive straight-sets victory over Marketa Vondrousova in the final of the 2019 French Open.

A first-time winner was guaranteed at Roland Garros from the semifinal stage, which featured four women who had never made a major final. But it's 23-year-old Barty from Queensland who seemed poised to join the ranks of Grand Slam champions after a breakthrough 2019 season which has seen her break into the top 10 and win her biggest title so far at the Miami Open - and so it proved as she rose to the occasion over the closing days of the French Open.

Barty in action (PA Sports)
Barty had to come back from a set and a break down against Amanda Anisimova in a roller-coaster semifinal, played on Court Suzanne-Lenglen a day late on Friday, and had to contend with scheduling considerations once again on Saturday as the women's final started nearly two hours after it was scheduled, with the conclusion of the men's semifinal between Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem taking the best part of four hours, including a rain delay.

But once the match started, it was played and won in the best Barty style: Solid, composed, drama-free, like the unassuming Australian herself.

Vondrousova, at 19 the first teenager to make the French Open final since Ana Ivanovic in 2007, was hamstrung from the first by nerves, and it clearly didn't help that the French Open's male-privileged scheduling meant that the Czech had not played a match on Court Philippe-Chatrier up until that point, with even her semifinal played on the 5,000-seater Court Simonne-Mathieu in what Amelie Mauresmo called a 'disgrace' to the tournament.

It would have been difficult for the 19-year-old to produce her best tennis under these circumstances, but she did not, getting off to a very nervous start and failing to hold serve once in the opening set.

Barty, however, showed no sign of nerves, sealing her first service game with an ace and breaking to lead 3-0. Her backhand slice had got her into trouble against Anisimova, but it was devastating today against Vondrousova, who struggled repeatedly to handle it as she went down 0-4. Vondrousova managed to drag Barty into some of her preferred lengthy rallies and broke back to get on the board for 1-4 when Barty netted to end an 18-shot rally, but she was broken again to trail 1-5 as she made a forehand error and Barty closed out the first set with her twelfth winner to lead 6-1.

A frustrated Marketa Vondrousova (PA Sports)
Both previous matches Barty had played against Vondrousova had gone the Australian's way in straight sets, and although they had never met on clay, the way Barty approached the match made the surface difference irrelevant. In many ways this has been the story of Barty's season and fortnight - the Australian, who said as recently as last year that 'every week on clay is a week close to grass', has developed an understanding that her style of tennis can be effective on every surface, and her consistent winning has built up her confidence to the point that she was able to seize every opportunity that came her way at Roland Garros.

Barty broke to open the second set before outlasting Vondrousova in a mini-marathon game for 2-0 in which the Australian's volley went up against the Czech's lob and came out victorious. Vondrousova saved two break points with big serves to hold serve for the first time in the match for 1-2, and the Czech played much better throughout the second set, getting her first hold to love for 2- 3, but every time Barty was put under any pressure on her serve, she came up with the goods, most notably at 4-2 when Vondrousova pushed to 30-30. Barty responded by bullying Vondrousova into a backhand error and hitting an exquisite backhand drop shot to hold, produced another hold to love for 5-3 to put herself one game away.

Vondrousova had game points to hold for 4-5 and force Barty to serve for the match, but Barty saved both with exceptional play and on her first match point, hit a big, weighty cross-court forehand to elicit a short ball which she could put neatly away into the open court for her first Grand Slam title.

Vondrousova and Barty with their trophies (PA Sports)
A disbelieving Barty dropped briefly to her haunches, holding her head in her hands, and took the opportunity to hug her coach Craig Tyzzer as Vondrousova cried disappointed tears in her chair. But the Czech was back to her usual smiling self for the trophy ceremony, telling Barty, 'You gave me a lesson today, so thank you.

'You're an amazing player and you're such a nice person, so you deserve this. ... Even though I didn't get the win today I really enjoyed my time here and I'm just really happy with everything that happened here.'

Barty was quick to praise Vondrousova, calling her season so far 'phenomenal' and telling the Czech that she believed she would reach many Grand Slam finals. 

To her team, she said: 

'Thank you guys for sticking with me ... It's been the most amazing journey that we've been on the last three years and I feel like this is just the start for us. Let's go and celebrate tonight.'

Barty is the first Australian woman to win a French Open title since Margaret Court in 1973, and the first Australian Grand Slam singles' champion since Samantha Stosur at the US Open in 2011. She will be ranked world no. 2 on Monday, the highest ranking for an Australian woman since Evonne Goolagong Cawley, like Barty an indigenous woman, in December 1976.

And do you want to know what might be the most exciting thing of all? The season of grass courts - Barty's favourite surface - starts on Monday.

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Ashleigh Barty beats Marketa Vondrousova to claim first Grand Slam title at the 2019 French Open

Australia's Ashleigh Barty defeated Marketa Vondrousova 6-1, 6-3 to become a major champion for the first time at the 2019 French Open and will rise to world no. 2 on Monday

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