April 4, 2021
Ash Barty retained her Miami Open title and answered anyone who had doubted her right to remain world number one.
Naomi Osaka has taken the last two Slams to stake her claim to the crown.
But Barty wasn’t about to step aside at one of her favourite venues.
It’s great to see the popular Australian back in top form as we near Wimbledon 2021.
This is her tenth title in all. She is growing in stature with every passing year.
The way the final finished in Florida was unfortunate, however.
Bianca Andreescu was reduced to tears as she had to quit not long after taking a tumble.
It wasn’t the dramatic climax anyone wanted to see in this first showdown between two of the world’s best players.
In truth Andreescu wasn’t going to win anyway, though.
Even before the Canadian hurt her ankle and requested a medical time out, she was being outplayed.
Barty’s variations of pace, height and spin were simply mesmerising.
And let’s not forget, Ash was nursing a mild abdominal injury and had to take her foot off the gas slightly.
Yet she cruised through the first set 6-3, still looking wonderfully relaxed. And she had already broken at the start of the second set to go 2-0 ahead.
Her friend and opponent soldiered on until she had fallen 0-4 behind – and then decided there was no more point in enduring her discomfort.
Barty is one of the nicest people in tennis and naturally she felt for Bianca.
Ash said: ‘It’s brutal. It’s never the way you want to win a tennis match. But I hope that is the first of any battles for us.
‘On a personal note it’s incredible. First time I’ve defended a title!’
Asked what she felt was the key quality for her over the tournament as a whole, Barty replied: ‘The fight. Never giving up.’
We’ve known about Barty’s battling spirit ever since she won the Wimbledon Girls’ title back in 2011.
Could Wimbledon 2021 also be a special year for Ash?
She is comfortable on grass and she has every chance to make an impact at the biggest tournament of them all.
‘I’m excited we could kick-start a long season in the best possible way,’ she said.
We’re excited too. We can’t wait to see her at Wimbledon!
And the achievements of two Brits in Miami shouldn’t be forgotten either.
Dan Evans and Neal Skupski went all the way to the men’s doubles final.
It was a wonderful run but eventually they were defeated 4-6, 4-6 by Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic.
The Englishmen’s work at the net in the showpiece wasn’t quite what it had been earlier in their impressive march through the tournament.
But they could have no complaints and have emerged with huge credit from a fun experience.
Wimbledon 2021 will be packed with talented British doubles players – not least Jamie Murray.
And don’t forget that Andy Murray aims to hit peak form and fitness in time for the big one too.
Will we see you at Wimbledon 2021? We do hope so!