Australia’s world no. 1 Ash Barty is into the finals for the singles and doubles in Stuttgart at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, this came on her 25th birthday.
Barty first of all faced Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina and came back from a set down to win 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 against the no. 4 seed.
A bit later she teamed up with USA’s Jennifer Brady to move into the doubles final after defeating China’s Wang Yafan and Germany’s Vivian Heisen 6-1, 7-5.
In the singles semifinal Barty opened the serving with a hold.
Games were on serve when Barty served the seventh game. At 15-15 the Australian badly missed a swing volley to give Svitolina a sniff.
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It got back to 30-30 before Barty hit a forehand wide to see a break point against her. She attacked Svitolina and forced an error for deuce.
After a long rally a wayward backhand from Barty presented another break point. Barty again saved it with good attacking play.
Another unforced error and another break point for the Ukrainian. It would be a backhand slice that was sent wide that saw Svitolina finally secure a break of serve to lead 4-3.
Svitolina would hold serve to maintain her advantage. Another service hold and she took the first set 6-4 after 34 minutes. It was a near perfect set from Svitolina.
The Ukrainian served at 84% to 59% in the opening set along with 3 Aces. Svitolina hit 13 winners to 9 from Barty and had 11 unforced errors to 7.
Svitolina did not face a break point in the opening set.
That quickly changed in the second set. An error followed by a Barty winner quickly saw the Ukrainian under pressure at 0-30. A delightful half-volley lob from Barty brought up three break points.
The first was saved by an Ace, the second saw Barty at the net to smash away a winner to take a 2-0 lead. A love service hold and Barty was up 3-0.
Games went with serve until 4-2 with Barty serving. After winning the first point the Australian hit a string of unforced errors to face two break points at 15-40.
An excellent drop shot from Svitolina saw Barty caught short and it was back on serve in the second set.
A love game for Svitolina saw the score level at 4-4.
Serving at 4-4 saw Barty again face a break point after she hit a forehand wide. A great return forced an error from Barty and it was Svitolina ahead at 5-4 and serving for the match.
On the first point Barty took Svitolina wide and then moved to the net to play a delicate volley into the open court. Next up came a double fault for 0-30.
The next point saw Svitolina hit a down the line forehand winner.
Barty brought up two break back points after moving Svitolina around the court with some good slice shots before forcing Svitolina to hit wide.
The set was back on serve at 5-5. Both players held and then it was into the tie-breaker.
Svitolina got the first mini-break after Barty hit a backhand slice into the net, it was now 3-2. A wayward backhand from Barty and the players changed ends at 4-2.
Barty got the mini-break back after some good hitting was used to push Svitolina deep in the court. A drive volley from mid-court turned into a dink volley that fooled her opponent.
The Australian was now on the attack and moved to 5-4.
A missed backhand volley from Svitolina gave Barty a set point. An Ace down the tee saved one set point.
Barty then stepped up to serve for the set. A good wide serve put her in control, an angled volley forced an error from the other end and it was a set all.
The second set lasted 55 minutes with Barty serving at 69% to 63% of 1st served by Svitolina. Winners were 17-14 to Barty and Unforced errors were 12-12.
Svitolina held serve in the opening game of the decider, followed by Barty.
In the third game it was Svitolina that struggled to hold serve. Barty had six break points before finally getting the break.
Barty was now in a good position after holding the next service game to lead 3-1.
Svitolina held to love in the next game to keep in touch of Barty.
The Ukrainian fell further behind after dropping serve in the seventh game. The highlight of that game was a backhand slice angled winner on the service return.
Barty would now step up to serve for the match at 5-2. After dropping the first point it was Barty that won the next three points to hold match points. She closed out the match on the second opportunity.
The match ended with Barty hitting 36 winners to 32 and she had 26 unforced errors to 33.
“I think you learn from every single match regardless of who the opponent is, but I think the Top 10 players and particularly the WTA Top 10 have, in the last five or six years, been exceptional quality,” Barty told the press, after her win.”
“I think you have to bring your best to be able to compete,” the World No.1 continued. “You know when it forces some of your best tennis out of you. So, it’s nice, in the critical moments, to come up with some pretty good stuff yesterday and today again. But obviously you enjoy the challenge of playing against the world’s best as well.”
At the end of the match Barty was surprised by a bouquet of flowers as happy birthday was played out over the sound system.
The final sees Barty facing no. 5 seed Aryna Sabalenka after she defeated Simona Halep 6-3, 6-2. The head-to-head is 3-3.