French Open 2019: Ashleigh Barty beats Marketa Vondrousova to win title

French Open 2019: Ashleigh Barty beats Marketa Vondrousova to win title

Ashleigh Barty sealed victory on her first match point after 70 minutes
2019 French Open
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 26 May-9 June
Coverage: Live text and radio commentary on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app.

Australian Ashleigh Barty has beaten Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova in the French Open final to win her first Grand Slam singles title and complete a fairytale return to the sport.

The eighth seed won 6-1 6-3 against 19-year-old Vondrousova on the Paris clay.

Barty, 23, quit tennis to play professional cricket in 2014, but returned to the sport 17 months later.

Now she is the first Australian to win a singles titles at Roland Garros since Margaret Court in 1973.

After thumping away an overhead on her first match point, Barty turned to her team and raised her hands in the air, placing them on her head in disbelief before dropping to her haunches on the red dirt.

“It is unbelievable, I’m a little speechless, I played almost the perfect match,” Barty said.

“It has been a crazy two weeks.

“It is a special place here for Australian players and I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve been able to achieve.”

Barty will climb to second in the world when the latest standings are released next week, making her the highest-ranked Australian woman since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in December 1976.

Despite defeat, 38th-ranked Vondrousova will rise into the top 20 for the first time following a clay-court swing where no other female player has won more matches.

Barty’s aggressive approach pays off

Barty’s first Grand Slam singles title comes almost three years to the day since she reappeared in the WTA rankings – at 623rd – after taking more than a year out to switch sports.

The Queenslander retired in 2014 and played for the Brisbane Heat in the women’s Big Bash after saying tennis was a “lonely sport”.

She decided to return in early 2016 and has since won four tour titles – including the Miami Open in March – as well as the US Open women’s doubles title last year.

Those achievements were important steps on a sharp climb leading to this stunning success in Paris.

Barty had the greater experience of the two finalists and it showed in a confident performance which did not allow Vondrousova to play with the variety she had previously shown.

Vondrousova, like she did against British number one Johanna Konta in the semi-finals, started nervously – but this time there was no chance of a recovery.

Barty’s aggressive approach paid off as she took three of nine break points to clinch the opening set in just 29 minutes, the first which Vondrousova had dropped in the tournament.

Barty broke again in the first game of the second set, then staved off a break point to hold a lengthy service game and maintain her advantage.

She continued to read her teenage opponent’s game throughout the second set, her neat footwork – on what used to be considered her weakest surface – enabling her to answer any question offered by Vondrousova.

That was illustrated in what proved to be the final game, Barty’s relentless returning allowing her to hit four winners as she turned a 15-40 deficit into a match-winning break.

Another new name on a women’s Grand Slam trophy

While a French Open final contested by Barty and Vondrousova might have seemed unlikely at the outset of the tournament, it was further proof there is no shortage of talented young women ready to win the biggest titles.

Barty is the ninth different female champion in the last 10 Grand Slams.

With a combined age of 42, they were the youngest pair of female Grand Slam finalists since the 2008 French Open when 20-year-old Ana Ivanovic beat 22-year-old Dinara Safina.

And whoever triumphed in Paris meant five of the WTA Tour’s seven biggest tournaments so far in 2019 have been won by players aged 23 or under.

Going into the final, the average age of all tournament champions this year was 23.6 years – the youngest since the 2008 season.

The triumph for Barty, who turned 23 in April, means that figure will stay about the same.

Biggest WTA tournaments in 2019 Winners & age of champion at time
Australian Open Naomi Osaka (21)
Dubai Tennis Championships Belinda Bencic (21 )
Indian Wells Bianca Andreescu (19)
Miami Open Ashleigh Barty (22)
Madrid Open Kiki Bertens (27)
Rome Masters Karolina Pliskova (27)
French Open Ashleigh Barty (23)

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