In her first WTA tournament in over 11 months, world No.1 Ashleigh Barty got her 2021 season off to a ripping start winning the Yarra Valley Classic.
Showing no signs of rustiness, Barty blitzed her way through the tournament and capped off the week with a massive win over 2020 Australian Open runner-up Garbiñe Muguruza 7-6(3) 6-4.Embed from Getty Images
The Spanish world no.15 has too had a fantastic week in Melbourne.
After failing to drop a single set in her run into the final Muguruza cruised past a formidable line-up, including 8th seed Marketa Vodrousova, 11th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and world No.4 Sofia Kenin in a repeat of the 2020 Australian Open final.
Troubled Barty in the opening exchanges, the Spaniard broke the Australian first and put the world No.1 under pressure to come back to take the opening set to a tiebreaker.
“It was some of the better tennis I played throughout the whole week,” Barty said, after the match. “Garbiñe forced me to play at that level. It was a great final.”
But it was Barty’s delightful slices and her excellent court positioning that saw her pull away from Muguruza in the tiebreak.
“Today I had to try and neutralise as best I can then get on the front foot as soon as I could,” said Barty.
“It’s not always just about the tennis; sometimes it’s about how you can control the court.”
Barty kept her momentum up in the second set, breaking Muguruza’s service in a mammoth game that had five deuces and three breakpoint chances.
Muguruza came back to draw level at 3-3, but Ashleigh Barty pulled ahead shortly after, breaking the 2017 Wimbledon champion, to win the Yarra Valley Classic, her ninth title on the WTA Tour.
Both players will now look to next week’s grand slam, with Barty looking to become the first home major champion at the Australian Open since Chris O’Neill in 1978.
Muguruza will start her Australian Open campaign on Tuesday morning as she takes on Russian Margarita Gasparyan on the Margaret Court Arena, while Barty will play No.77 Danka Kovinic later that evening.
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