Wimbledon: Australian ace ready to be champion but Pliskova could be Barty party pooper

By Sports Desk July 09, 2021

Ash Barty will lean on the tough lessons that Wimbledon has taught her over the years when she tackles Karolina Pliskova on Centre Court in the women's final.

A decade has slipped by since a 15-year-old Barty won the girls' singles title, and now she and Pliskova will do battle for the Venus Rosewater Dish.

Saturday's final is a clash of the player with the most aces on the women's tour this year (Barty: 255) and the tournament leader for that metric (Pliskova: 54).

Pliskova will likely be a tough nut to crack, having won 57 of her 61 service games for a 93 per cent strike rate, with the Czech the only player in the draw above 90 per cent in that crucial component.

Both players will be making their debut in a Wimbledon women's singles final, the first time that has happened at the All England Club since 1977, when Virginia Wade beat Betty Stove.

 

World number one Barty will become just the fourth player in the Open Era to win both girls' and women's singles titles at Wimbledon should she get the job done, after Ann Jones, Martina Hingis and Amelie Mauresmo.

It has been quite a journey to this point for the Australian, who after her early impact in the game stepped away from tennis for almost two years after the 2014 US Open. She played Big Bash League cricket and only returned to tennis at Eastbourne in 2016, gradually ascending to the summit and winning the 2019 French Open title for a maiden senior grand slam.

There have been painful defeats along the way on grass, her favourite surface, including a loss to Daria Kasatkina in the third round in 2018 and to Alison Riske from a set up in the fourth round a year later.

Barty was the top seed at that edition of Wimbledon in 2019, as she is this year, and there is no doubt she would be an exciting champion, a player who seems to only bring positivity to tennis, albeit she pointed to some bleak moments in her past ahead of the tussle with Pliskova.

"I think Wimbledon for me has been an amazing place of learning," Barty said. "I think 10 years ago I came here for the first time as a junior and learned a lot in that week.

"Probably 2018, 2019 was some of my toughest weeks playing. To come away with our losses in those two tournaments, I learned a hell of a lot from those two times.

"I think a lot of the time your greatest growth comes from your darkest times. I think that's why this tournament has been so important to me. I've learned so much with all my experiences, the good, bad, everything in between I've been able to learn from.

"Just to be able to keep chipping away, keep putting yourself out there, let yourself be vulnerable, just be yourself, knowing that everything that comes with that is an opportunity to learn. I think that's been a massive one for us this fortnight."

The first thing that was said to Barty in a news conference after she won the girls' title in 2011 was: "You're not a very demonstrative winner."

How this grounded Queenslander might react to winning on Saturday remains to be seen. Pliskova certainly has the weaponry to mean a Barty victory is far from a foregone conclusion.

Pliskova would be the fifth oldest first-time grand slam winner in the Open Era should she prevail, with the 29-year-old having previous experience of winning titles on grass at Eastbourne (2017 and 2019) and Nottingham (2016).

"It's a final. Anything can happen," Pliskova said of the Barty match-up. "I know she has a grand slam, but also for her it is the first Wimbledon final.

"I think we both have good chances. It's going to be hopefully a good match to watch as well because with her it's always interesting. We going to see what's going to happen.

"I never played a horrible match against her."

 

Pliskova and Barty have met seven times across their careers, starting from a minor ITF event in Nottingham in 2012, which went the Australian's way, the then 16-year-old edging a final-set tie-break.

Barty has also won their last three matches, reflecting her rise to the top and former world number one's Pliskova's slight career dip.

"Of course she makes you feel a bit ugly with the game which she's playing," Pliskova said. "Also I had, like, a lot of chances the last match we played. I think I had match point or was serving for the match. I know there's going to be many chances for me, as well."

That match took place in Stuttgart in April of this year and did indeed go close, Barty closing it out 7-5 in the deciding set of the quarter-final and going on to take the title. She has three tournament wins this year, a tour-high.

Barty is sure to stay at number one on Monday, a 77th consecutive week in the top spot and 84th overall in her career, while Pliskova can jump from 13th to fourth with the title. She will move to seventh should she be runner-up.

The red-hot favourite is Barty, but Pliskova is comfortable with that.

"You want to play the best player in the final," she said. "Of course, I don't want anybody else but her there."

Related items

  • Wimbledon: 'It's only going to get tougher' says Norrie, but semi-finalist vows to 'take it to' Djokovic Wimbledon: 'It's only going to get tougher' says Norrie, but semi-finalist vows to 'take it to' Djokovic

    Wimbledon semi-finalist Cameron Norrie has pledged to take the fight to Novak Djokovic in their last-four tie.

    Norrie defeated world number 58 David Goffin 3-6 7-5 2-6 6-3 7-5 on Tuesday to seal his progression to a maiden grand slam semi-final.

    He is the first British man in the Open Era to reach the semi-finals of Wimbledon after Roger Taylor, Tim Henman and Andy Murray.

    The world number 12's reward is a tie against top seed and reigning Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic, who is in the hunt for a 21st grand slam title. Yet that daunting challenge is not dampening Norrie's enthusiasm.

    "It's great to get this now but it's only going to get tougher," said Norrie in his on-court interview.

    "I'm going to take it to Novak and hopefully you guys can get behind me and I'm sure you will."

    Jannik Sinner became the first player to win two sets against Djokovic at Wimbledon since Roger Federer did so in an epic final in 2019, but the Serbian hit back to win 5-7 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 on Centre Court.

    Djokovic has now won 84 singles matches at Wimbledon in the main draw, a tally that trails only Federer (105).

    Norrie has won two titles on the ATP Tour this year, but acknowledged it was hard to get an immediate grip of what he has achieved so far at Wimbledon.

    "I think just winning a match like this, I'm in shock. I don't know what to say now," the 26-year-old said.

    "I have flashbacks of all the hard work and all the sacrifices I have had to make and it's definitely paid off – and it feels pretty good."

  • Pochettino 'proud' of Paris Saint-Germain tenure after making way for Galtier Pochettino 'proud' of Paris Saint-Germain tenure after making way for Galtier

    Mauricio Pochettino expressed his pride at ending his Paris Saint-Germain tenure as a Ligue 1 champion after his departure was confirmed.

    PSG confirmed Pochettino's long-expected exit on Tuesday, appointing former Lille and Nice coach Christophe Galtier as his replacement on a two-year contract.

    Despite PSG winning their 10th Ligue 1 title in dominant fashion last season, the writing appeared to be on the wall for Pochettino since a spectacular collapse in a 3-2 aggregate Champions League defeat to Real Madrid in March.

    That represented PSG's fourth last-16 Champions League elimination in the last six seasons, while the former Tottenham boss also missed out on the Ligue 1 title to Lille – coached by Galtier – in his first half-season in France.

    Since Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) acquired the club in 2011, meanwhile, only Carlo Ancelotti (63.6) has recorded a lower win percentage as PSG boss than Pochettino (65.5).

    But writing on Instagram, Pochettino chose to focus on his successes and expressed his gratitude at being given the chance to lead the club, for whom he made 95 appearances as a player.

    "I want to wish everyone at PSG the very best for the future – the owners, the board, the players, all the staff and the supporters," Pochettino wrote.

    "To Nasser [Al-Khelaifi, PSG president] – I want to say thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of the PSG family again.

    "We enjoyed some amazing moments and big wins all together and, as a coaching staff, with every experience we always take learnings to advance our evolution for the future.

    "We are proud to finish as league champions at a club that has meant so much to me and my family, from my time here as a player and a captain, and now as a coach."

  • Weghost joins Besiktas on loan from Burnley Weghost joins Besiktas on loan from Burnley

    Wout Weghorst has joined Turkish giants Besiktas on a season-long loan just six months after joining Burnley, in the aftermath of the club's relegation from the Premier League.

    The striker, who has scored three goals in 14 international appearances for the Netherlands, joined Burnley from Wolfsburg in a reported £12million (€14.4m) move in January, as the Clarets battled relegation from the top flight.

    That fight ultimately ended in failure, with Weghorst scoring just twice in 20 appearances for the club.

    While Manchester City legend Vincent Kompany is hoping to lead Burnley to an immediate Premier League return, he will have to do so without the services of Weghorst, who joins a side which finished a disappointing sixth in the Turkish Super Lig last term.

    Burnley confirmed his departure via their social media accounts on Tuesday, wishing the 29-year-old luck at his new club.

    Weghorst will be hoping his move to Istanbul allows him to rediscover his Wolfsburg form: In the 2020-21 season, he scored 20 Bundesliga goals, a tally only bettered by Erling Haaland (27), Andre Silva (28) and Robert Lewandowski (41).

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.