Barty reaches biggest career final at Miami Open
Ash Barty delivers a commanding performance to dismiss Anett Kontaveit in straight sets, advancing to the Miami Open final where she will meet either Simona Halep or Karolina Pliskova.
Ash Barty has stormed into the Miami Open final following a resounding victory over Anett Kontaveit.
Barty beat the 21st seed from Estonia 6-3 6-3 in one hour and 17 minutes to advance to the biggest final of her career.
In a match delayed twice by persistent rain, Barty recovered from a break down in both sets before sealing victory with an ace.
She will face either No.2 seed Simona Halep or fifth seed Karolina Pliskova in what will be the biggest final of her career.
— WTA (@WTA) March 28, 2019
“I think (I have) to enjoy it,” Barty said. “Obviously I’ve been doing the right things throughout the week to be able to put myself in a position to play for a title.
“I think you have to go out there (and) embrace it. I’m gonna be playing against an extremely tough opponent, regardless of who it is. And I can go in there and play with freedom and try and play my brand of tennis.”
Halep and Pliskova are both former No.1s, and both players Barty has faced before.
The Australian lost her first two matches against Halep before beating the then world No.1 in the second round in Sydney earlier this year, while she has split four career meetings with Pliskova.
“I played Sim in her first match of the year in Sydney, and I think she was a little bit rusty (before) certainly finding some of her best tennis again. And she’s proven that this week,” Barty said.
“Karolina, I played her in the US Open last year in another big match.
“I think both of them have qualities that I’ll have to do my best to try and take away, and I think I’ll certainly have to play my best tennis.”
— WTA (@WTA) March 28, 2019
Early on her in her semifinal against Kontaveit, Barty struggled to find her best tennis, going down a break of serve immediately before rain forced the two women off the court.
When they returned briefly, Barty broke back, before they were sent running for cover again.
Resuming at 2-2, Kontaveit held serve before Barty rattled through the next five straight games, using her heavy forehand to full effect and taking a commanding position in the match.
“I think I just got off to a little bit of a poor start. Just made a couple of early errors and Anett was able to take advantage of it,” Barty said.
“But I was able to reset and come back out and do what I wanted to come out and do.”
Kontaveit rallied early in the second set, breaking Barty in the third game and opening a 3-1 lead.
But again, the Australian roared back against the error-prone Estonian, who finished the match with 33 unforced errors to Barty’s 19.
“(It was a) very long day. But I think for me it’s an opportunity to come out and play another match – I know we have to wait around but we can’t control the weather. It was an opportunity for me to drink a lot of coffee and watch a bit of the golf,” Barty said of the rain delays.
“Just relaxed and when we came back on the court it was back to business.”
The 22-year-old has now won 17 of her 20 singles matches in 2019 and will appear in her second WTA final of the season after also reaching the same stage in Sydney.
She is set to make her top-10 debut in next week’s rankings, at world No.9.
It’s been a remarkable rise of the Queenslander, especially considering she stepped away from the game in 2014 and was absent for almost two years.
“I think I’m a much more mature person. Obviously I was quite young when I stopped, decided to have a bit of a break and stop playing. And when I decided to come back it was on my terms,” she reflected.
“I really wanted to make my own decisions and I was able to surround myself with the most genuine people. I have the most amazing team and I’m an extremely lucky girl.”
The Miami Open final will be played on Saturday (local time).