World Tennis No.1 Ashleigh Barty Announces Shock Retirement

(FILES) This file photo taken on July 10, 2021 shows Australia’s Ashleigh Barty holding the trophy after winning her women’s singles match against the Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova on the 12th day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London. (Photo by AELTC/Jed Leicester / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE

 

 

World number one Ashleigh Barty stunned the tennis world Wednesday by announcing her early retirement from the sport at the age of just 25. 

Barty dropped the bombshell weeks after becoming the first home-grown champion of the Australian Open in 44 years, joining tennis royalty’s most exclusive club with a Grand Slam crown on three different surfaces.

“Today is difficult and filled with emotion for me as I announce my retirement from tennis,” she said in a video posted on Instagram.

In the tearful video message with her close friend and former doubles partner Casey Dellacqua, Barty said she was “thankful for everything this sport has given me”.

“I’m so happy, and I’m so ready and I just know at the moment in my heart as a person, this is right. I’m so grateful for everything that tennis has given me, it’s given me all of my dreams plus more.

“But I know the time is now right for me to step away and chase other dreams and put the racquets down.”

Barty has been world number one for more than two years and retires after winning three Grand Slam singles titles — the French Open in 2019, Wimbledon in 2021 and the Australian Open this year.

“Thank you for being an incredible ambassador for this sport and for women around the world,” the Women’s Tennis Association tweeted.  “We will miss you so much, Ash.”

Widely seen as one of the most respected and loved players on tour, Barty rapidly became the best, with her dizzying array of slices, pinpoint serving and seamless forehand typifying her all-round game.

Late last year, she became engaged to long-term boyfriend Garry Kissick, who was ever-present courtside when she played and often posted supportive messages on social media.

Barty Makes History After Winning First Australian Open

Australia's Ashleigh Barty holds her trophy following her victory in the women's singles final match against Danielle Collins of the US on day thirteen of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 29, 2022. Aaron FRANCIS / AFP
Australia’s Ashleigh Barty holds her trophy following her victory in the women’s singles final match against Danielle Collins of the US on day thirteen of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 29, 2022. Aaron FRANCIS / AFP

 

An imperious Ashleigh Barty said it was a dream come true after on Saturday becoming the first Australian to win her home Grand Slam in 44 years, but the memories made along the way were more important than the trophy.

The world number one was 5-1 down in the second set against fearless American Danielle Collins but came storming back to win on a tiebreak and sweep past the 27th seed 6-3, 7-6 (7/2) and be crowned Australian Open champion.

It was a third Slam title for the 25-year-old after her breakthrough French Open success in 2019 and Wimbledon last year, joining Serena Williams as the only active players to win majors on all three surfaces.

READ ALSO: Medvedev To Face Nadal In Australian Open Final

“It’s a dream come true for me and I’m just so proud to be an Aussie,” said Barty.

“It’s incredible, time and time again we’ve come so close and now to have my hands on such a beautiful trophy after an exceptional fortnight is just unbelievable.

“But for me it’s about the memories more than the trophies, it’s the memories we make from the whole journey,” she added.

“We (her team) often talk about it being this incredible journey, this great adventure. It’s about making those things happen along the way and really enjoying it.”

Barty achieved the feat with Christine O’Neil, the last Australian man or woman to win an Australian Open singles, watching in the stadium.

O’Neil won the title in 1978 and told reporters before the match: “I’m probably her (Barty’s) biggest fan. I’d be happy to hand it over to her because she’s so deserving of it.”

There were fears Barty might be overwhelmed by the weight of expectation, but the Australian has dealt with intense pressure before, none more so than at Wimbledon last year.

Tactical acumen

Winning at the All England Club was the one trophy she wanted more than any others, and she handled the occasion with aplomb.

She applied the same tactical acumen with the resurgent Collins, who has enjoyed a new lease of life after surgery last year for endometriosis left her pain free, storming to her first two WTA titles.

“Big congratulations to Ash on a formidable tournament, a formidable few years really,” said an emotional Collins, who is projected to break into the top 10 for the first time when the new rankings come out on Monday.

“The way you play and the variety of shots, hopefully I can implement some of that into my game.”

Barty countered the 28-year-old’s power-hitting and big serves with her dizzying array of slices, pinpoint serving, speed and a seamless forehand, but she had a major fright.

Both players comfortably held their early service games, offering few chances. But Collins’ heavy groundstrokes were causing problems for the top seed.

She worked the first deuce with Barty serving at 2-2 and a wayward forehand handed her the opening break point of the night. The Australian held firm and served out with an ace.

Crowd roaring

Barty stepped up a gear and put pressure on the Collins serve to earn her first break point with a net volley, and the American double faulted under pressure to go 4-2 behind.

With the crowd roaring her on, Barty raced home 6-3.

But Collins wasn’t done and came storming back, breaking Barty for 2-0 in the second set — only the second break of serve against the Australian in the tournament.

And while Barty made a statement by winning her next service game to love, the American was pumped and broke again for 5-1.

Barty was in deep trouble but incredibly found a way back, breaking for 2-5 with some crisp winners then breaking again for 4-5 as Collins floundered serving for the set for a second time.

It went to a tiebreak, where Barty was always in control as she carved out her own little piece of history.

“I think I just tried to get a lot more aggressive,” she said on facing a 5-1 deficit and the possibility of being taken to a third set for the first time in the tournament.

“Just from those couple of games from 5-1, I just wanted to try and get some momentum going and try and control the court a bit more.”

World No One Barty Suffers Shock Defeat In First Round Of Olympics

Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo celebrates after defeating Australia’s Ashleigh Barty during their Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women’s singles first round tennis match at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo on July 25, 2021. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

 

World number one Ashleigh Barty crashed out of the Olympics women’s singles tennis tournament in the opening round on Sunday, losing 6-4, 6-3 to Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo.

Barty, the reigning Wimbledon champion, dropped serve twice in each set and made 55 unforced errors compared to just 13 for her opponent.

“I’m disappointed I wasn’t able to get through today, it just wasn’t my day. Credit to Sara though, she is always a tough competitor,” said Barty, the first women’s top seed to lose in the first round at the Olympics.

“I never really felt comfortable out there and wasn’t able to play the match on my terms. The key to my game is serving well and I wasn’t able to do that today. I was a bit erratic and made too many errors.”

“I felt like I had to be aggressive today and she made me press and overplay,” she added.

Sorribes Tormo, ranked 48th, will go on to face France’s Fiona Ferro in the second round.

“It’s an amazing feeling, I still can’t believe it,” she said.

“It’s something incredible for me. It’s something that I’ve been dreaming of all my life, being here and even more so beating the world number one. I’m super, super happy.”

While Barty’s bid to become the first Australian singles gold medallist in tennis ended prematurely, she and partner Storm Sanders are through to the second round of the women’s doubles.

Barty could potentially come up against Sorribes Tormo again in the quarter-finals of that competition. Sorribes Tormo and Paula Badosa reached the last 16 by beating Mexican duo Giuliana Olmos and Renata Zarazua.

Sorribes Tormo dismissed concerns over playing twice on the same day as the International Tennis Federation’s extreme weather policy was activated with temperatures again reaching 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) in Tokyo.

The rules call for a 10-minute break, if requested, between the second and third sets once the reading goes above 30.1 Celsius, while changeovers and set breaks have been extended by 30 seconds.

“It doesn’t matter the conditions. We are here to play, we are here to enjoy and that’s what we will try to do,” said Sorribes Tormo.

AFP

Federer, Osaka Among Those Named To US Open Tennis Field

In this file photo taken on May 30, 2021 Japan’s Naomi Osaka celebrates after winning against Romania’s Patricia Maria Tig during their women’s singles first round tennis match on Day 1 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris. 
MARTIN BUREAU / AFP

 

 

Defending champion Naomi Osaka, who withdrew from the French Open due to mental issues and skipped Wimbledon, and Roger Federer, who missed the Olympics with a knee injury, were named Wednesday to the US Open tennis field.

The US Tennis Association named the men’s and women’s singles lineups for the August 30-September 12 event at Flushing Meadows, where spectators will return at 100% capacity.

The ATP Tour’s 103 top-ranked players are entered for New York with top-ranked Novak Djokovic chasing a calendar-year Grand Slam after a Wimbledon victory that lifted him level with ninth-ranked Federer and third-ranked Rafael Nadal with a men’s record 20 career Grand Slam titles.

Only Rod Laver in 1962 and 1969 and Don Budge in 1938 have managed a men’s calendar Slam.

Djokovic, who will seek Olympic gold in Tokyo, could become only the second player to win all four Slam singles crowns and Olympic gold in the same year after Steffi Graf in 1988.

Other men’s entrants include sixth-ranked defending champion Dominic Thiem, past US Open winners Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic, world number two Daniil Medvedev and fourth-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Britain’s Andy Murray, the 2012 US Open champion, was the first player on the alternate list and will gain a spot in the main draw should anyone in the field withdraw.

Sixteen qualifiers and eight wildcards will complete the field.

On the women’s side, top-ranked Ashleigh Barty of Australia, who won her second Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, is among 15 Slam singles champions in the field, seven of them in the top 10.

Four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka of Japan, ranked second, is also in the lineup along with 2020 Australian Open champion and world number four Sofia Kenin, fifth-ranked 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andreescu, eighth-ranked Iga Swiatek and former world number ones Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep.

In all, 100 of the top 104 players in the WTA rankings opted into the event.

Ashleigh Barty Beats Pliskova To Win First Wimbledon Title

Australia's Ashleigh Barty kisses the winner's Venus Rosewater Dish trophy after winning her women's singles match against Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova on the twelfth day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 10, 2021. Glyn KIRK / AFP
Australia’s Ashleigh Barty kisses the winner’s Venus Rosewater Dish trophy after winning her women’s singles match against Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova on the twelfth day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 10, 2021. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Ashleigh Barty won her first Wimbledon title on the 50th anniversary of fellow indigenous Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley’s maiden crown, beating Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3 in the final on Saturday.

The 25-year-old Australian — who wore a specially-designed dress in tribute to Cawley’s iconic scallop one she sported in 1971 — adds the Wimbledon crown to her 2019 French Open title.

“It took me a long time to verbalise, to dare to dream it and say it,” said Barty, who was also fulfilling a childhood dream.

“I didn’t sleep a lot last night, I was thinking of all the what-ifs. I hope I made Evonne proud.”

It was the first women’s Wimbledon final to go to three sets since 2012 when Serena Williams beat Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska.

Barty is also the first top seed to win the women’s title since Williams in 2016.

Barty had looked like cruising to victory after soaring into a 4-0 lead over her opponent — the Australian’s start so blistering that she won the first 14 points.

However, 29-year-old Pliskova steadied herself while Barty faltered when she served for the match at 6-5 in the second set.

The Czech broke and then swept the tiebreaker to take the final into a decider.

Barty got the break for 2-0 in the final set and despite one or two wobbles she got herself over the line sinking to her knees, her hands over her face in disbelief.

Australia's Ashleigh Barty celebrates winning against Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova during their women's singles final match on the twelfth day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 10, 2021. AELTC / Simon Bruty / POOL / AFP
 Barty celebrates winning against Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova during their women’s singles final match on the twelfth day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 10, 2021.
AELTC / Simon Bruty / POOL / AFP

 

She wiped a couple of tears away before climbing up to the player’s box, just like her compatriot Pat Cash did when he won the Wimbledon men’s title in 1987.

Victory would taste sweeter too as only last month she retired from the French Open in the second round due to a left hip injury.

“This is incredible,” said Barty, the third Australian woman to be crowned Wimbledon singles champion in the Open era (Cawley and Margaret Court (1970) the others).

“I have to start with Kaja (Karolina Pliskova).

“Congratulations on an incredible tournament to you and your team. I love testing myself against you and I’m sure we’ll have many many matches.”

‘I never cry..now’

Barty is masterful at remaining poker-faced on court and she managed to restrain her emotions largely at the presentation ceremony.

However, once off court she sobbed as she hugged her boyfriend Gary Kissick.

For Pliskova, it was more heartbreak as the former world number one fell at the final hurdle in three sets in the 2016 US Open final.

At one point with Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise looking on it looked feasible, though, that she could pull off mission impossible in winning the title.

However, her previously superb weapon — her serve that had only been broken four times prior to the final — deserted her when she most needed it.

So did her emotions as Pliskova — the fourth Czech woman to appear in a Wimbledon singles final in the Open era — spoke after receiving the runner-up trophy.

Her tears, though, did not compare to those shed by her late compatriot Jana Novotna when she lost in the 1993 final and had to be consoled by the Duchess of Kent.

Perhaps of some consolation to Pliskova is Novotna picked herself up after that defeat and won the title in 1998.

“I never cry, never, and now,” said Pliskova stepping back a bit.

“I want to say Ash [Barty] played an incredible tournament, I fought to make it difficult for her but she played very well so congrats to her.

“I want to thank all my team. All the success goes to them, without them I would not be here, and my family of course.

“No matter which trophy I have we have had an incredible two weeks here.”

Barty Blasts Into Stuttgart Quarter-Finals

Australia’s Ashleigh Barty reacts after winning the singles match against Germany’s Laura Siegemund (not in picture) on day 3 of the Women’s Tennis Grand Prix WTA 500 tournament in Stuttgart, southwestern Germany, on April 21, 2021. (Photo by Thomas KIENZLE / various sources / AFP)

 

 

World number one Ashleigh Barty wasted no time on Wednesday booking her place in the quarter-finals of the WTA clay-court tournament in Stuttgart.

The top seed needed just 24 minutes to wrap up the first set against Germany’s Laura Siegemund before claiming a 6-0, 7-5 second-round win.

“It was good to play on a new surface, the court was quite quick compared to what I am used to,” said Barty, who hit six aces in an impressive opening display.

After Charleston, this is Barty’s second clay-court tournament to prepare for next month’s French Open, where she won the 2019 title.

The 24-year-old Australian sat out Roland Garros last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic and Poland’s Iga Swiatek succeeded her as champion.

In Friday’s quarter-finals, Barty plays either Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko, also a former Roland Garros winner, or former world number one Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic.

“They are both good strikers (of the ball), so I will watch their match and see how best to play them,” added Barty.

Earlier, Pliskova had to dig deep after losing the second set to German Tamara Korpatsch before sealing a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 victory in her opener, her first appearance this season on clay.

“I’m super happy that I’m through, but other than that I didn’t see many really good things,” said Pliskova, currently ranked ninth in the world.

“I was struggling a bit in the rallies. I thought there were too many errors from easy balls, but my serve was quite ok.

“First rounds are always a bit nervous, especially a first match on clay.

“I’m just going to hope it’s going to be better.”

There were no such problems for three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber, who breezed into the second round, sweeping aside Georgia’s Ekaterine Gorgodze in a 6-2, 6-2 victory.

“That wasn’t a bad way to start the clay-court season, she wasn’t an easy opponent and I had a solid game,” said Germany’s Kerber.

The 33-year-old, who has dropped to 26 in the world rankings, expects a “tough match” on Thursday against fourth-seed Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, who has won all of their last six meetings.

In Wednesday’s other second round match, third seed Sofia Kenin of the USA was knocked out 7-5, 6-4 by Anett Kontaveit of Estonia.

In the quarter-finals, Kontaveit plays either fifth-seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus or German qualifier Anna-Lena Friedsam.

Tsitsipas Upset Ends Nadal’s Record Title Bid At Australian Open

Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas (R) shakes hands with Spain’s Rafael Nadal after their men’s singles quarter-final match on day ten of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 17, 2021. PHOTO: DAVID GRAY / AFP

 

Stefanos Tsitsipas ended Rafael Nadal’s Grand Slam record bid in five gripping sets on Wednesday as home hopes were dashed when top-ranked Ashleigh Barty was knocked out in the Australian Open quarter-finals.

Greece’s Tsitsipas looked down and out after losing the first two sets but after edging the third he was a different player, taking the upper hand over a subdued Nadal to win 3-6, 2-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 7-5.

Tsitsipas, 22, stunned Roger Federer in the 2019 last 16 before being halted by Nadal in the semis, but he turned the tables to set up a last-four meeting with Russia’s Daniil Medvedev.

READ ALSO: Champions League: Barcelona Suffer Shock Defeat To PSG

Underlining the scale of the upset, it was only the second time Nadal has lost a Grand Slam five-setter from two sets to love after his defeat to Fabio Fognini at the 2015 US Open.

“I don’t know what happened after the third set — I fly like a little bird, everything was working for me,” the fifth seed said.

“The emotions at the end were indescribable, they were something else.”

The defeat will sting for Nadal, who was drawing closer to a 21st major title and sole ownership of the all-time men’s record he currently shares with the injury-sidelined Federer.

Tsitsipas’s reward is a meeting on Friday with Medvedev, his third Grand Slam semi, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic or Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev waiting in Sunday’s final.

The classic encounter played out in front of 15,000 empty seats at Rod Laver Arena, with fake crowd noises added to the TV broadcast, on the last day of a snap, state-wide coronavirus lockdown.

Up to 7,477 fans — about half capacity — will be allowed at the centre court from Thursday after Victoria’s state government eased the restrictions.

However, fans will no longer be able to see Barty, the world number one whose dreams of ending Australia’s 43-year wait for a domestic winner were dashed by the unlikely figure of Karolina Muchova.

 

– ‘My head was spinning’ –

In hot conditions, Barty raced through the first set but Muchova dominated after a medical timeout for dizziness, winning 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 to reach her first Grand Slam semi-final as the Australian crumbled.

“I was a bit lost on the court and my head was spinning so I took a break,” said Muchova, while Barty, a semi-finalist last year, called her latest near-miss “heartbreaking”.

But the top seed added: “Will it deter me, will it ruin the fact we’ve had a really successful start to our season? Absolutely not.”

Muchova will face Jennifer Brady in the last four after the 22nd seed beat her fellow American and close friend Jessica Pegula 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.

Brady’s achievement is notable, as she is the last woman standing among those who served a hard 14-day quarantine after arriving in Australia — unlike other players, who were allowed out of their hotels for five hours a day to train.

“I felt the pressure from her. She’s such an aggressive player,” said Brady, who also reached the semis at last year’s US Open.

“I was looking to push her back and get more on offense. I think I played a really good third set.”

Medvedev and Andrey Rublev were both unbeaten this year but their all-Russian quarter-final was disappointing.

Medvedev, older and higher-ranked, took control after a tight first set, winning 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 as his rival struggled in the intense afternoon heat.

“We had some unbelievable rallies and after the point it’s tough to breathe,” said Medvedev, the 25-year-old world number four.

“I think I’m one of the first players to make Andrey that tired on the court so I’m quite happy.”

Defending champion Djokovic plays Karatsev in Thursday’s men’s semi-final, while Muchova faces Brady and Serena Williams plays Naomi Osaka in the women’s last four.

AFP

Champion Kenin Out, Top-Ranked Barty Through At Australian Open

Sofia Kenin of the US leaves after losing against Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi during their women’s singles match on day four of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 11, 2021. (Photo by William WEST / AFP)

 

Sofia Kenin’s emotional Australian Open defence ended in a second-round defeat Thursday but top seed Ashleigh Barty overcame a blip to reach the last 16.

The highly-strung Kenin has struggled to handle expectations in her maiden Grand Slam title defence and admitted to having a few tears during a tense opening-round win on Tuesday.

The fourth seed shed more on Margaret Court Arena Thursday after her 6-3, 6-2 defeat in 64 minutes to the Estonian world number 65, becoming the highest-ranked player to go out of the tournament.

“I felt like I wasn’t there, my head wasn’t there,” a teary-eyed Kenin admitted later.

 

Sofia Kenin of the US (R) touches rackets with Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi after losing in the women’s singles match on day four of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 11, 2021. (Photo by William WEST / AFP)

 

Meanwhile world number one Barty cast friendship aside with a straight-sets victory over compatriot Daria Gavrilova, but appeared to lose focus serving for the match before closing out for a 6-1, 7-6 (9/7) win against her Fed Cup teammate.

Barty’s left thigh was heavily strapped but she seemed to move with ease in the second-round encounter against 387th-ranked Gavrilova.

“This isn’t very subtle,” Barty said referring to the bandage. “I’m as fit as a fiddle.

“When you play another Aussie, rankings go out of the window, so it was always going to be a tricky match.”

 

Australia’s Ashleigh Barty hits a return against Shelby Rogers of the US during their Yarra Valley Classic women’s singles tennis match in Melbourne on February 5, 2021. (Photo by David Gray / AFP) 

 

Sixth seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic had few alarms in beating American Danielle Collins, a semi-finalist at Melbourne Park two years ago, 7-5, 6-2.

Swiss 12th seed Belinda Bencic was pushed harder by veteran Russian Svetlana Kutznetsova before coming through 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 in 2hr 39min.

In the men’s draw, Russian rising star Andrey Rublev, the seventh seed, reached the last 16 with a straight-sets victory over Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (10/8).

Later Thursday, Rafael Nadal will test his sore back again as he chases a record 21st Grand Slam crown.

The ailing Spanish second seed had to modify his service action during a straight-sets cruise past Serbia’s Laslo Djere in the first round.

He will round off the night session on Rod Laver Arena against American qualifier Michael Mmoh, having never lost a match at the Australian Open to a player ranked as low as the world number 177.

“My back is not perfect. Every day that I’m able to go through, probably there are more chances to be better,” said Nadal, who also pulled out of the ATP Cup last week.

Before that match. teenage sensation Coco Gauff is looking for her latest big-name scalp in the prime-time evening slot on Rod Laver Arena.

The potential victim this time is Ukrainian fifth seed Elina Svitolina, who will be all too aware that Gauff knocked out Venus Williams and Naomi Osaka on her way to the fourth round a year ago aged 15.

I’m Still The Best, Insists Serena As Barty Beckons

Serena Williams of the US reacts on a point against Danielle Collins of the US during their Yara Valley Classic Women’s singles tennis match in Melbourne on February 5, 2021. (Photo by David Gray / AFP)

 

Serena Williams insisted Friday that she still sets the standards for women’s tennis ahead of a semi-final showdown with world number one Ashleigh Barty before the Australian Open. 

The 39-year-old has been in ominous form but needed to overcome a mid-match wobble to oust fellow American Danielle Collins 6-2, 4-6, 10-6 in 96 minutes at the Yarra Valley Classic.

Williams has looked sharp having worked her way back from an Achilles injury suffered at last year’s US Open, which then led to a withdrawal from the French Open before the second round.

 

Australia’s Ashleigh Barty hits a return against Shelby Rogers of the US during their Yarra Valley Classic women’s singles tennis match in Melbourne on February 5, 2021. (Photo by David Gray / AFP) 

 

Asked whether she was still the best in the world when on top form, Williams was unequivocal.

“I absolutely wouldn’t be playing if I didn’t think that,” said the American, who is aiming for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title.

Her unwavering belief further fuels a mouth-watering contest Saturday against home favourite Barty, who will be attempting to break her country’s 43-year curse in singles at the first Grand Slam of the year.

Williams has won both their contests but they haven’t met since the 2018 French Open — one year before Barty’s breakthrough Roland Garros title en route to the top ranking.

“I think it’s definitely a good opportunity to see where I’m going against the current number one,” Williams said. “I think that’s really important for me.

“Obviously I think for her, as well, to see where she’s going against my game.

“I think I’m a pretty big player just on all surfaces. I think all around it’s a really good opportunity for us both.”

 

Serena Williams of the US reacts after a point against Danielle Collins of the US during their Yara Valley Classic Women’s singles tennis match in Melbourne on February 5, 2021. (Photo by David Gray / AFP) 

 

Barty has yet to rediscover her best, having dropped sets to Marie Bouzkova and Shelby Rogers, in her first tournament in 11 months.

“I always love testing myself against Serena. Looking forward to it tomorrow,” she said.

 

 

Australia’s Ashleigh Barty reacts on a point against Shelby Rogers of the US during their Yarra Valley Classic women’s singles tennis match in Melbourne on February 5, 2021. (Photo by David Gray / AFP) / — IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE —

Barty, Serena Cruise Into Wimbledon Last 16

Britain’s Harriet Dart returns against Australia’s Ashleigh Barty during their women’s singles third round match on the sixth day of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 6, 2019. GLYN KIRK / AFP

 

World number one Ashleigh Barty booked her maiden place in the fourth round at Wimbledon on Saturday while Serena Williams made the second week for the 16th time.

Barty overwhelmed British wild card Harriet Dart 6-1, 6-1 while 37-year-old, seven-time champion Williams produced her most convincing display in dispensing with German Julia Goerges 6-3, 6-4.

Barty, bidding to become the first Australian Wimbledon women’s champion since Evonne Goolagong Cawley won her second title in 1980, will play unseeded American Alison Riske for a place in the last eight.

She is also the first Australian woman to make the second week since 2010.

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“That was really good,” said Barty. “I served really well and getting out of the love 40 game was massive.

“Incredible it is a first for me (to be in the last 16), new territory for me.”

Williams reached the fourth round for the 16th time and goes on to face Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro for a place in the quarter-finals.

Eleventh seed Williams, who defeated Goerges in last year’s semi-finals, is bidding to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles.

“It’s been an arduous year for me, so every match I’m hoping to improve tons,” said Williams, who had a knee problem which affected her season.

“Every time I get out there, I try. I’m getting a really late start but all that matters is that I’m still here.”

Two-time champion Petra Kvitova reached the last 16 for the first time in five years — the last time she did in 2014 she won her second title.

Czech sixth seed Kvitova defeated Poland’s Magda Linette 6-3, 6-2 and will face either Britain’s Johanna Konta or Sloane Stephens of the United States for a place in the quarter-finals.

On the men’s side, Kei Nishikori equalled Ai Sugiyama’s record of four appearances in the last 16 of Wimbledon by a Japanese player as he dismissed American journeyman Steve Johnson 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.

The leading men were due to take centre stage later with eight-time champion Roger Federer playing Australian Open semi-finalist Lucas Pouille of France.

Prior to Federer’s match on Centre Court, two-time champion and third seed Nadal should have a quieter time than his previous clash, the four-set win over Nick Kyrgios, against popular veteran Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Mixed doubles rarely get centre stage but British fans will wait till the bitter end as former world number one Andy Murray will partner Serena Williams against Andreas Mies of Germany and Chile’s Alexa Guarachi.

“I wanted to play mixed because I’ve only played just about 15 matches so far this year,” said Serena.

“It’s such a buzz going around about me and Andy now, that I’ve got nervous.

“I’m ready and excited but I’m definitely nervous.”

AFP

Barty Ends Australia’s 46-Year Wait For French Open Title

Australia’s Ashleigh Barty poses with the trophy Suzanne Lenglen after winning against Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova at the end of the women’s singles final match on day fourteen of The Roland Garros 2019 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 8, 2019.
Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

 

Ashleigh Barty ended Australia’s 46-year wait for a French Open singles title on Saturday by thrashing nervous Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova in a one-sided women’s final.

Eighth seed Barty got off to a strong start and never looked back, winning 6-1, 6-3 after only 70 minutes to claim her maiden Grand Slam title.

READ ALSO: Thiem Ends Djokovic History Bid, Faces Nadal In Roland Garros Final

The 23-year-old will rise to second in the world behind only Naomi Osaka when the latest rankings are released next week, after becoming the first Australian winner at Roland Garros since Margaret Court won the last of her five trophies in 1973.

Ashleigh Barty’s path to the Roland Garros title (x denotes seeded player):

Ashleigh Barty (AUS x8)

1st rd: bt Jessica Pegula (USA) 6-3, 6-3

2nd rd: bt Danielle Collins (USA) 7-5, 6-1

3rd rd: bt Andrea Petkovic (GER) 6-3, 6-1

4th rd: bt Sofia Kenin (USA) 6-3, 3-6, 6-0

QF: bt Madison Keys (USA x14) 6-3, 7-5

SF: bt Amanda Anisimova (USA) 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-3

F: bt Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) 6-1, 6-3

Barty Beats Pliskova To Win WTA Miami Open Title

Ashleigh Barty of Australia celebrates with the trophy after her win against Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic in the final during day thirteen of the Miami Open tennis on March 30, 2019 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Julian Finney/Getty Images/AFP

 

Ashleigh Barty’s transformation is complete after the Australian defeated Czech seventh seed Karolina Pliskova 7-6 (7/1) 6-3 Saturday to win the biggest singles title of her career at the WTA Miami Open.

The 22-year-old Aussie quit tennis five years ago after finding the mental grind of the tour too much to bear, turning to professional cricket in a bid to find sporting happiness.

Barty, however, knew she had the tennis skills to compete at the very top and after returning in February 2016, has taken her career to an elite level, culminating in her first-ever WTA Premier Mandatory title to follow on from the US Open doubles crown she won last September.

Barty, a junior Wimbledon winner at age 15, will rise from 11th to number nine in the world rankings and become the first Australian woman since Sam Stosur in June 2013 to crack the top 10.

“It has been a phenomenal two weeks both in singles and doubles,” said Barty, who lost a women’s doubles semi-final alongside Victoria Azarenka.

Barty hit 15 aces and 41 winners compared to 22 from an out-of-sorts Pliskova.

“I had to keep it physical, make as many balls as possible and keep my running shoes on,” Barty said.

Barty’s victory means that for the first time ever there have been 14 different winners in 14 WTA events so far this season.

Pliskova, who will rise to fourth in the rankings despite a disappointing final, badly struggled with her serve and movement, off the pace mentally and physically after reaching the quarter-finals or better in her five prior tournaments this year.

“I am very tired but Ashleigh came up with the goods today,” Pliskova said.

The 27-year-old Czech came into the final with 31 aces, most in the women’s draw, but she won only 65% of points on her first serve compared to 86% from Barty.

When the Australian double-faulted at 1-1 to hand Pliskova an early break, it wasn’t the start Barty sought and more errors in the following game allowed Pliskova to extend her lead.

Barty then began to settle down and crisply struck a forehand winner to breal Pliskova for the first time.

The Aussie started superbly in the tie-breaker, moving 5-1 ahead before Pliskova hit long to seal the set for Barty, who broke early in the second set to signal it would be her day.

AFP