Five years after taking an 18-month break from competitive tennis to play — of all things — cricket, 23-year-old Ashleigh Barty has reached the mountaintop, easily defeating Marketa Vondrousova to win the French Open, 6-1, 6-3.
No matter the winner, this year’s final promised a first-time major champion. The French Open is always unpredictable in the women’s draw, with — including Saturday — seven first-time major champions in the last 10 tournaments, and 10 different winners in the last 12 tournaments.
Vondrousova, of the Czech Republic, is the first teenager to make a Grand Slam final since Caroline Wozniacki in 2009. Barty, not exactly a codger herself, had never advanced deeper into a tournament than the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2018. She was seeking to become the first Australian to win the French Open since Margaret Court in 1973.
Barty began the match on the attack, taking advantage of Vondrousova’s obvious nerves — Saturday marked Vondrousova’s first-ever match on Roland Garros’s marquee Court Philippe-Chatrier. Barty took the first four games of the match before Vondrousova managed a break to halt the run at 4-1.
Barty immediately broke Vondrousova back, and served to win the first set 6-1 in just 28 minutes. It was a marked difference from the semifinal, where Barty was up 5-0, 40-15 against Amanda Anisimova when Barty lost control of the set and ended up losing 7-6. (Barty would eventually close out Anisimova 6-3, 6-3.)
Vondrousova, who had not lost a set the entire tournament coming into Saturday, put up more of a fight in the second set, but nonetheless appeared rushed and overwhelmed throughout the match. Barty broke Vondrousova’s serve in the very first game, and that break held even as Vondrousova slowly found her footing.
Barty won the tournament on a brilliant, decisive overhead slam to break Vondrousova a second time, completing one of the more remarkable comebacks in recent women’s tennis. Barty now rises to No. 2 in the world, and appears firmly back in charge of her tennis destiny.
“It’s unbelievable. I’m a little bit speechless,” Barty said afterward. “I played the perfect match today.” No disputing that.
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