June 8, 2019
Ashleigh Barty is a Grand Slam champion.
Not bad for someone who left the sport for cricket in 2014 and might never have returned.
But the plucky Aussie did return, three years ago, and she has returned better than ever before.
Victory in Miami was a firm indication of the improvements she has made to her all-round game.
And she wasn’t just handling the pressure better. She was relishing it.
At WDH we already thought Ash had what it took to win a major at the start of the year.
She was our outside bet for her home Slam. But she has come good on the Parisian clay instead – and now the Barty party can really get started.
She dropped down at the moment of victory, as if that move might somehow help her to take it all in.
Maybe it did. Everyone, including the Roland Garros champion, knew she had been pretty sensational.
‘I played the perfect match today,’ she admitted after her 6-1, 6-3 victory. ‘I’m so proud of myself and my team. It has been a crazy two weeks.’
And life will become that little bit crazier now that she has hit the big time.
The 23-year-old will know a different level of pressure, but should be able to handle it now.
The win was never really in doubt against the Czech teenager, Marketa Vondrousova.
Anyone who had watched the underdog’s semi-final against Jo Konta knew that she had been somewhat lucky to reach the showpiece.
That is no disrespect to Marketa. You make your own luck and she seized her chances when Konta squandered hers.
But Vondrousova didn’t look like a Grand Slam champion just yet. And so it proved on final day.
Barty came out with all guns blazing and her opponent took five games to get on the board.
Aggression, know-how, even some drop-shot finesse kept the Australian in firm control.
Barty kept a cool head, made the right decisions and never relinquished her stranglehold. Not even as Vondrousova tried hard to get some sort of foothold.