World number one Ash Barty has concluded her Australian Open preparations on a triumphant note following a straight-sets defeat of two-time major winner Garbiñe Muguruza in the Yarra Valley Classic final at Melbourne Park.
- Barty was victorious 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 over Muguruza
- It is Barty’s ninth WTA Tour tournament victory
- Barty will begin her Australian Open campaign against Danka Kovinić on Tuesday
In front of a sparse crowd under the roof on Margaret Court Arena, Barty chalked up a 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 win over last year’s Australian Open runner-up on the eve of the season’s first major.
It is Barty’s ninth singles title on the WTA Tour and her second on Australian soil.
Barty, an Australian Open semi-finalist just over 12 months ago, will begin this year’s tournament against Danka Kovinić on Tuesday.
There was rustiness in Barty’s performances during the Yarra Valley Classic but understandably so.
She had not contested a WTA Tour event since last February after deciding to sit out most of the 2020 season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Importantly for Barty she got four matches under her belt at Melbourne Park to help iron out any wrinkles ahead of the Australian Open, while her physical conditioning was as impressive as ever.
Beating an opponent of Muguruza’s quality will provide a confidence boost and although Barty’s serve was inconsistent in the final — despite posting 11 aces — her groundstrokes, and use of drop shots and lobs were executed with precision.
Her defensive scramble behind the baseline was also on song.
Barty made a positive start when she sent down an ace with the opening serve of the match, but she fell behind on the scoreboard when she was broken by Muguruza in the third game.
Muguruza, a former world number one, experienced nervous moments on her serve as well, having survived two break points on her way to establishing a 3-1 lead.
The Spaniard dropped her next service game as Barty levelled at 3-3, but went a break up in the ninth game as she prepared to serve for the first set.
But Barty, the 2019 French Open champion, was not prepared to roll over.
She converted on her first break point of the 10th game when Muguruza went long with a return, leaving the first set back on serve at 5-5.
The Australian gained the upper hand early in the tiebreaker and eventually took it out 7-3, before breaking Muguruza’s serve in the first game of the second set.
Muguruza, who did not lose a set on her way to the final, got a break back and the set was on serve until the ninth game.
Barty gained the service break to lead 5-4 and she proceeded to serve out to love, finishing the match with a brilliant lob that fell just inside the baseline.