Ashleigh Barty is in the top 10 for the first time in her career after a straight sets win over Karolina Pliskova in the Miami Open final. It was an outstanding service performance from her in the 7-6 6-3 win with an astonishing 15 aces at the centre of it.
There were nerves for the Australian early on with a bad service game gifting the break to Pliskova for a 2-1 lead but she soon recovered. She was troubling the Czech with variety and got the break back not long after, finishing off a well worked break point with a forehand down the line. There were no more break opportunities for either play for the rest of the set, setting up the tiebreak. Barty continued to move Pliskova all over the court in a one sided tiebreak, taking it 7-1.
Barty continued her strong serving in the second, with just two points lost overall. That meant it was game over for Pliskova after a wild backhand long saw her broken in the opening game, but not before saving four break points in a marathon service game. Barty did have the opportunity to pick up the insurance break at 2-0 but could only hit out on a big serve from the Czech. She did eventually break for a second time in the set, doing so to close out the match with a love break. It was a tired final game from Pliskova, barely moving for 2 of Barty’s 42 winners that set up match points before hitting a forehand way long to finish off the match.
“I think it’s a pity or unlucky that I didn’t hold the serve a little bit longer because I was up a break, and she quite gave me a lot of mistakes in the beginning, which I think she didn’t after,” a disappointed Pliskova said afterwards. “And I was tired, super tired. And also, the conditions completely different than what I have played the night matches. So of course I was not playing the best tennis. I was not serving the best.”
For Barty, the only way is up and she has to be considered someone who could go deep at a slam the way she is playing right now. Her doubles successes look to have set a good base for a player who is capable of both power and precision. “It’s been an amazing fortnight of tennis. It really has. I think it’s pretty cool to have played such a good match today, obviously in a big situation and a big match. Certainly proud of myself and happy the way that my team and I have been able to get through these two weeks.” she said.
Barty doesn’t have a great deal to defend going into the clay season and may be able to make a legitimate run at the top 5 with a couple of strong tournaments. She earned her breakthrough slam quarter final in Australia but should be hoping to get at least this far on a regular basis from now on.