Brilliant Ashley Barty denies Kerber to reach first Wimbledon final

Jonathan Davies in Wimbledon 29 Jul 2021
Barty has dropped just three games so far in Melbourne (Paul Zimmer via Images)

Ashleigh Barty will play Karolina Pliskova in the 2021 Ladies’ singles final at Wimbledon following a straight-sets victory over Angelique Kerber on Thursday.

It will be the first time since 1977 that two maiden finalists will compete for the Venus Rosewater Dish at SW19.

Girls’ champion here in 2011, Barty is aiming to become only the fourth player to complete a unique double by also landing the Ladies’ title 10 years later.

The world number one, who arrived having won nine sets without reply, made the ideal start against 2018 champion Kerber; breaking in game two on the way to taking the opener 6-3.

Appearing in her first Grand Slam semi-final since triumphing here three years ago, Kerber responded with an early break in the second set as she opened up a 5-2 lead.

The German, who was triumphant in Bad Homberg prior to this event, was looking to build on a run of 10 straight wins on grass.

But from deuce in the following game, Barty reeled off 10 successive points – breaking back along the way – to level things up at 5-5.

The next two were shared to set up a tie-break, in which two poor opening points from Kerber enabled the top seed to establish a commanding 6-0 advantage.

And although her opponent rallied to reduce the arrears to 6-3, Barty held her nerve to become the first Australian Ladies finalist at Wimbledon since Evonne Goolalong in 1980.

Standing in the way of her quest for glory is eighth seed Pliskova, who came from behind to defeat Aryna Sabalenka 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in an epic showdown that produced a record 32 aces.

The seventh Czech woman to appear in the last four at SW19, the former world number one had yet to drop a set in this year’s event.

She had a great opportunity to move 6-5 up against the serve in the opener, but squandered four break points that enabled second seed Sabalenka to hold.

The third Belarusian semi-finalist here with a tour-leading 34 wins under her belt in 2021, Sabalenka then broke to move halfway towards another victory.

Vera Zvonareva was the last woman to prevail after losing the opening set of a Wimbledon semi-final; doing so against Tsvetana Pironkova in 2010.

Eager to follow suit, Pliskova won nine successive points from 2-1 down in the second on the way to levelling matters.

Seeking a first Slam final since the 2016 US Open, the Czech then broke in the opening game of the decider, which subsequently went with serve before she sealed a marvellous turnaround with thunderous ace number 32.


Wimbledon 2021 Results

Thursday July 8


Ashleigh Barty 6-3, 7-6 Angelique Kerber
Karolina Pliskova 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 Aryna Sabalenka

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