Brilliant Ashley Barty battles past Pliskova for maiden Wimbledon crown

Jonathan Davies in Wimbledon 29 Jul 2021
Barty became the first Ladies’ singles champion from Australia since 1980 (USA TODAY Network/SIPA USA/PA Images)

Ashleigh Barty claimed his first Wimbledon title after beating Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 in the final on Saturday.

The world number one became the first Australian woman to triumph at SW19 since Evonne Goolalong Cawley in 1980 following an intriguing battle that lasted just under two hours on Centre Court.

Junior champion here 10 years earlier, Barty is also now the fourth player to follow that up with success in the ladies’ singles after Ann Jones, Martina Hingis and Amelie Mauresmo.

Not since 1977 had two first-time finalists competed for the Venus Rosewater Dish at Wimbledon, when home favourite Virginia Wade beat Betty Stove.

It was also a second Slam showpiece for both players, who had never previously been beyond round four at the All England Club.

Five years after reaching the US Open final, Pliskova’s nerves were evident during the early stages and Barty took full advantage; winning each of the first 14 points to open a commanding 4-0 advantage.

The Czech finally settled and reduced the arrears to 5-3 before the Australian served out the first set to love.

Aiming to add to her 2019 French Open title, Barty then took early command of the second; breaking in game three and winning eight consecutive points to move 3-1 ahead.

Pliskova, who came from behind to see off second seed Aryna Sabalenka in the semi-finals, hit back almost immediately but appeared to be on the ropes when she was broken from 40-0 up in game 11.

Nevertheless, the eighth seed held her nerve to break back to 15 and force a tie-break, which she dominated 7-4 to level.

That was the first set Barty had dropped since her opening-round victory over Carla Suarez Navarro almost two weeks earlier.

But the 25-year-old quickly dusted herself down and restored her authority on proceedings; Pliskova broken in the second game after sending a straightforward volley into the net.

It went with serve from there as the Czech desperately held on, but a stray backhand into the net in game nine sealed an emotional victory for Barty 50 years after compatriot Goolalong Cawley landed her maiden title here.

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