PARIS, FRANCE – The Women’s Final at Roland Garros will see a first-time Slam winner crowned as No. 8 seed Ashleigh Barty takes on Marketa Vondrousova.
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Ashleigh Barty  Path to the Final
R1: Jessica Pegula 6-2 6-3
R2: Danielle Collins 7-5 6-1
R3: Andrea Petkovic 6-3 6-1
R4: Sofia Kenin 6-3 3-6 6-0
QF: Madison Keys  6-3 7-5
SF: Amanda Anisimova 6-7(4) 6-3 6-3
Ashleigh Barty’s decision to take an almost two-year break from tennis after the 2014 US Open saw her return to the WTA stage in 2016, having enjoyed a great stint with Brisbane Heat in Women’s Big Bash League cricket.
She has kept a passing eye on Australia’s fortunes at the Cricket World Cup, but they could well do with keeping an eye on her as she reached her first Grand Slam final. Barty did not have to face a seed until the quarter-finals, where she prevented No. 14 seed Madison Keys from reaching a second straight Roland Garros semi-final.
Just 23 herself, she did have two of the tour’s feisty up-comers in Sofia Kenin, who defeated Serena Williams, and Amanda Anisimova, who took out defending champion Simona Halep. There was no doubt that Barty had a quick finish on her mind having raced out to a 5-0 lead in a matter of minutes but as she looked to serve out for the first set, Anisimova started to wake up, saving two set points to hold and get her first game, and working her way back into the match before turning it on its head by winning the tie-break.
That momentum looked to be firmly resting on the teenager’s shoulders as she jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but Barty then reeled off the next six games in a row to give the young American a moment of pause.
After exchanging a pair of breaks, it was Barty who nudged ahead once more, attempting to break for the match but failing to convert the three match points, before taking three more to clinch her spot in her first Slam final.
After the match, Barty said: “The occasion, the conditions, it was pretty brutal out there. I’m just proud of myself the way I was able to fight and scrap and hang in there and find a way when I kind of threw away that first set. But at the end of the day, it’s an amazing opportunity. Yeah, I think it was just a really challenging day.”
“I played some really good tennis. I played some pretty awful tennis. At the end of the day, I think I was able to scrap and fight and find a way to keep competing. And, yeah, that’s probably the best part that came out of today.”
“It’s been an incredible journey the last three years. It’s been an incredible journey the last two weeks. I feel like I have played some really good tennis, some consistent tennis. Although that level wasn’t there today for the whole match necessarily, it was there when I needed it. I’m just so proud of myself the way we were able to go out there and handle it today. All things considered, we’re in a pretty amazing place now.”
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Amazingly Marketa Vondrousova has yet to drop a set through the tournament as she was taken to two tight sets by the British No. 1 who was looking to make it third time lucky. In fact it was Konta in the driving seat with early breaks in both sets, but Vondrousova found a way back on both times as Konta faltered at the end of both sets.
It was especially hard on the Brit who has now gone three Slam semi-finals without winning a set, but shared a great moment at the net with the teenage Czech.
After the match, Vondrousova said: “I was a bit nervous, of course. I think she played great few points. I was just trying to stay positive, and, like, not thinking of it and just get better.
“I don’t really remember, but I think she missed one volley and it was pretty easy. So maybe that was the point of the set. And also, I’m really happy with the way I played the tiebreak, and it helped my nerves. Because the match before, I did double-fault on my match point, and I was like, Oh, my God, it’s here again.”
Barty’s experience was what got her over the line against Anisimova and she has been ultimately the one in control in her two encounters with Vondrousova in 2017 (Birmingham) and in 2018 (Cincinnati) but the Czech has been improving year on year.
That being said, so has Barty, and the pair have enough variety and shot-making capabilities to make this a pretty even competition when all said and done. Barty has developed an all-court game and despite maybe not viewing clay as a surface that she could do well on, she has a game that can (and has been) successful on all surfaces.
Both have a game that fun to watch, and we can expect all manner of drop shots, lobs, spins and slices. The deftness of touch both have a young age marked them out as almost prodigious talents. Vondrousova consistency has improved across the years, but Barty’s use of her experience and keeping her wits about her when others might lose theirs makes her the favourite heading into the match.
Prediction: Barty in three sets.
The Roland Garros Women’s final will take place on Court Philippe Chatrier not before 3pm (2pm BST).
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