Barty party: Australia’s 46-year French Open title drought is no more
Ashleigh Barty claimed her first singles major after dispatching Marketa Vondrousova 6-1, 6-3 in Saturday’s Roland Garros final.
By Matt Fitzgerald
June 08, 2019
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In a matchup between two first-time major singles finalists, 23-year-old Ashleigh Barty became the first Australian to win the French Open in 46 years on Saturday, overwhelming 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova, 6-1, 6-3, in the youngest Grand Slam final since 2008.
Barty’s road to a major singles title is an inspiring journey. At just 18 and already a three-time Grand Slam doubles finalist, Barty walked away from the sport in 2014; she simply burned out and was burdened by the expectations on her shoulders to make an impact in singles. Barty turned to cricket, and though she found immediate success in translating her tennis skills with the Brisbane Heat, picked her racquet back up in 2016. She cemented her return a year later, breaking into the Top 20 and capturing her first WTA singles title in Kuala Lumpur.
In defeating Vondrousova, Barty will rise to world No. 2, the highest ranking for an Australian woman since 1976, and will be in prime striking distance of wrestling away the top spot from Naomi Osaka during the grass-court season. Barty leads the WTA with 31 match wins and added to her earlier season triumph at the Miami Open. She hadn’t advanced past the second round at Roland Garros in her first five appearances, and improved to 3-0 against Vondrousova.
Vondrousova was the first teenager to contest the Roland Garros final in 12 years, when Ana Ivanovic was defeated by Justine Henin. The Czech entered the final with a 15-2 record on clay in 2019, tied for the most wins on the surface with Johanna Konta and Petra Martic, the two players she eliminated in the tournament’s latter stages to reach the title match.
Just like in her semifinal match with Amanda Anisimova, Barty raced out of the blocks to build a double break lead. Though she would relinquish one to the left-hander, there was no repeat collapse this time, as her aggressive ball-striking and dexterity at net resulted in swallowing up Vondrousova, who was making her debut on Court Philippe Chatrier. Vondrousova managed just two winners to 12 unforced errors in the opener.
Vondrousova picked up her level after going down an early break in the second set, but Barty refused to crack as she inched closer to the finish line. The eighth seed forced her opponent to serve a lengthy game, utilizing her court coverage to reach match point. That was all Barty needed, as she ripped a forehand down the line to set up a short overhead winner. Barty claimed the victory in 70 minutes, finishing with 27 winners to 26 unforced errors.
“She was just too good today. I think she played [an] amazing match,” said Vondrousova. “I didn’t have too many chances. She just gave me a lesson… I’m just 19 and I won six tough matches. It was amazing two weeks for me, and I’m just really proud of myself that I was in the final here.”