Ash Barty
Ash Barty

Wimbledon: Ashleigh Barty beats Karolina Pliskova (6-3, 6-7, 6-3) to win the women's single Wimbledon title at the Centre Court, here on Saturday.

Barty, the world No 1, emulated her idol Evonne Goolagong Cawley and become just the third Australian woman to win the singles at Wimbledon in the Open era. She has been in imperious form, too, dropping only two sets throughout the tournament and navigated by far her trickiest test, against 2017 champion Angelique Kerber in the semi-finals, in commanding fashion. “I’m enjoying every single day that we get to come out here and do what I love,” Barty said. “Being able to come out and play the final.”

Pliskova, who held the world No 1 ranking in 2017, had only previously reached one grand slam final in her career, when she cratered at the US Open against Kerber in 2016. The Czech admitted prior to Wimbledon to be hoping only to reach the second week but she was able to cruise clinically into the semi-finals without dropping a set before overcoming the immense power of No 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka to reach the final.

Barty, who is 25, was the junior champion at Wimbledon a decade ago, then left the tennis tour for nearly two years in 2014 because of burnout. She played professional cricket back home, then eventually decided to return to her other sport.

Good call.

She was at her best at the beginning of each set against the eighth-seeded Pliskova, a 29-year-old from the Czech Republic with a big serve.

Pliskova dropped to 0-2 in major finals; she was the runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open, too.

Barty's most significant wobble came late in the second set. She served for the victory ahead 6-5 but sailed consecutive forehands long to get broken, then was shaky in the ensuing tiebreaker, which she ceded with a double-fault.

In the third, though, Barty went up an early break, led 3-0 and stayed the course in the first Wimbledon women's final to go three sets since 2012. It also was the first since 1977 between two participants who never had been that far at the All England Club.

Neither Barty nor Pliskova made it past the fourth round at the grass-court major until this fortnight.

Pliskova finally got the measure of her strokes in the second set, in which she twice trailed by a break before pulling it out.

That could have shaken Barty. Except here's the thing: She speaks clearly about never letting anything get her too down, including the hip injury that knocked her out of the French Open last month and prevented her from her usual preparation for Wimbledon.

And so, with her typical grit, Barty managed to get back to the steadier version of herself down the stretch against Pliskova. When she got a second chance to serve it out, Barty didn't flinch, even when she had to stare down a break point.

A missed backhand by Pliskova removed that threat, and Barty then delivered a 108 mph ace. One last backhand miss from Pliskova ended the match, and Barty crouched at the baseline and covered her face with her arm.

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