While Barty leads their head-to-head, the pair have split wins on grass, with Pliskova winning their tour-level encounter in Nottingham, albeit five years ago. Prior to that Barty beat her at the Nottingham ITF event.
Tale of the Tape – Key Stats (2021 – Grass)
Ashleigh Barty (WR 1)
Karolina Pliskova (WR 13)
Tournament Previous Best
1st Serve Return Points Won %
Return Points Won %
Break Point Conversion %
Break Points Saved %
Total Points Won %
Barty has been a lot sharper on returns, even allowing for Pliskova’s two losses this grass court season over Bartys straight run of wins at Wimbledon. Barty is ahead on all the other starts but they are closely enough matched to make this close.
Barty’s all-court game has stood her in great stead, coming in off no warm-up events, and playing herself into form. Her serving has stepped up over the fortnight, as has the core elements of her game, bringing variety, pace and angles. Perhaps her two-handed backhand could be made to be more of a weapon at times.
After her semi-final she said: “It was just almost a moment of relief, a moment of pure excitement. It was something that I’d never, never knew if I would feel. I think being able to have an opportunity to play in a final here at Wimbledon is incredible. That match was a great level, the best level I’ve played, in quite some time.”
On the 50th anniversary year of when Evonne Goolagong won Wimbledon for the first time, she has chosen a tennis dress that pays tribute to the scallop designed outfit won by the Australian legend.
Barty continued: “I spoke to Evonne prior to the tournament and haven’t been in contact with her since. I’ve just been kind of floating my way through and just kind of enjoying the opportunities I’ve had here this week.
“It’s a really special anniversary for Evonne. I couldn’t be more proud to be in a position to wear an outfit inspired by her. Now to kind of give myself a chance to create some history almost in a way that’s a tribute to her is really exciting. I couldn’t be more rapt to have that opportunity on Saturday.”
Barty took a much publicised break from the game, having been touted as the next Australian prodigy and having already earned her Slam spurs numerous times in doubles. Tennis’ gain is that she chose to return to the sport.
“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.”
Over the net will be another fine Czech who excels on the green, but expectations for Pliskova have always been high, and aside from her 2016 run to the US Open final, Slam success has been out of reach for Pliskova.
In previous years she has been pretty prolific in the events prior to Wimbledon, setting her up as a favourite only for it to end in an early exit. She had dropped out of the Top Ten for the first time since 2016, and after losing her first two matches on grass in the lead up to Wimbledon, she has been very much under the radar.
That has suited her. She has had straight sets wins all the way to the semi-final where she dropped her first set to the World No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka.
“Coming into this tournament, the dream was to make the second week, of course, because I was not in the second week for a while. Never I thought about, like, maybe going into the final. Sascha was super confident in me. He said, I told you you were going to make the final.
“My second final, second time I’m playing against a player No. 1 (smiling). But, no, I think it can’t be any better than that. You want to play the best player in the final. Of course, I don’t want anybody else but her there.
“It’s a final. Anything can happen. Also for her, I mean, I know she has a Grand Slam, but also for her is the first Wimbledon final. I think we both have good chances. It’s going to be hopefully good match to watch as well because with her it’s always interesting. We going to see what’s going to happen.”
Pliskova will need to play aggressively and will need to serve well if she is to neutralise Barty’s advantage on first serve returning in their stats so afar. Her movement has looked so much better this season, and she (and Barty for that matter) are both adept at the net.
Barty will be a crafty opponent and Pliskova will have to rely on much more than her serve to make this competitive and to make a shot at winning her first Slam title.
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