Australia’s Ashleigh Barty had defeated two-time Birmingham finalist Barbora Strycova 6-4, 6-4 and advances to the final for her second time.
The win sees Barty sit just two rankings points off of the no. 1 spot, a win tomorrow will send her to the top of women’s tennis.
After winning the French Open just a few weeks ago, Barty has quickly adjusted to grass and is gaining in confidence with each outing, although she did come up with some sloppy unforced errors.
Both players were moving well on the grass court, but it was Barty that played the big points the best.
Barty faced five break points, saving all of them, some with some Aces. Strycova had four against her, but Barty was able to convert one in each set to give her the winning edge.
The Australian perhaps hit the shot of the tournament when playing a lunge volley in the first set. The ball ballooned over the net and hit the line with vicious spin to take the ball away from Strycova who could not believe what she saw.
Barty earned her first break point in the third game after a heavy forehand saw Strycova toss up a lob that landed close to the net for Barty to smash to the open court.
The service return on break point was hit wide to keep Strycova in the game. She would hold to lead 2-1.
The world no. 2 was able to break in the fifth game. The break point came after Barty forced her opponent into a half-volley that sailed long for 15-40. A double fault gave Barty the break.
In the next game it was Barty hitting long to hand Strycova two break points. Barty used good court coverage to save the first, then a big first serve saved the second. Barty would hold.
From there, games went with serve to see Barty win the opening set.
The key break came in the ninth game of the second set. Barty was brought forward by a Strycova drop shot that sat up. Barty hit deep then won the point with a volley. Barty claimed the break when she saw her opponent hit a volley wide.
Barty served two Aces in the next game to help her jump out to 40-15. Another Ace missed by millimetres, that would have sealed the win.
An unforced error from Barty saw the score at 40-30, but then Strycova hit long after several deep shots from Barty to give the Australian the win and have her poised to take the no. 1 ranking.
Standing in Barty’s way will be her doubles partner from this week, German Julia Goerges who defeated Croatia’s Petra Martic 6-4, 6-3.
Goerges was a semifinalist at Wimbledon in 2018, so will be a tough opponent for the Australian. The head-to-head is 1-1. Barty winning most recently on hard court in Zhuhai, China and Goerges defeating Barty in the round of 16 in Birmingham in 2018.