Barty crushes Von­drousova to win French Open

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Sports - BY HOWARD FENDRICH

Ash Barty de­cided to take a break from ten­nis in 2014 to play cricket. Af­ter al­most two years away, the Aus­tralian re­turned to the tour, and that ca­reer choice paid off in a big way Satur­day with her first Grand Slam ti­tle.

The No. 8-seeded Barty took con­trol right at the start of the French Open fi­nal and never re­ally let go, beating un­seeded 19-year-old Mar­keta Von­drousova of the Czech Repub­lic 6-1, 6-3.

“I played the per­fect match to­day,” Barty said.

Pretty close to it, par­tic­u­larly at the start.

She raced to a 4-0 lead and then held on, show­ing that she learned her les­son af­ter blow­ing a 5-0 edge in the open­ing set of her quar­ter­fi­nal vic­tory a day ear­lier over an­other un­seeded teenager, 17year-old Amer­i­can Amanda Anisi­mova.

Barty wound up with a 27-10 edge in win­ners against a far shakier Von­drousova and be­came the first Aus­tralian to win the tro­phy at Roland Gar­ros since Mar­garet Court in 1973.

“You gave me a les­son to­day,” Von­drousova said to Barty dur­ing the tro­phy cer­e­mony at Court Philippe Cha­trier.

Nei­ther Barty, 23, nor Von­drousova had ever played in a Grand Slam fi­nal be­fore. Nei­ther had even been in a ma­jor semi­fi­nal un­til this week, ei­ther.

Told dur­ing an on-court in­ter­view that she hadn’t seemed jit­tery, Barty replied: “Oh, I was. Very ner­vous.”

Barty hadn’t even been past the fourth round in her first 17 Slam ap­pear­ances be­fore get­ting to the quar­ter­fi­nals in front of a sup­port­ive home crowd at the Aus­tralian Open in Jan­uary.

But she truly looked the part Satur­day, with her for­mi­da­ble sliced back­hand cre­at­ing openings that she took ad­van­tage of with her top­spin fore­hand, which pro­duced 11 of her win­ners.

Af­ter the U.S. Open five years ago, Barty walked away from pro­fes­sional ten­nis. She had been a suc­cess­ful ju­nior, winning the 2011 Wim­ble­don girls’ ti­tle, and played in three dou­bles fi­nals by then, too.

But her time in cricket gave her a chance to re­con­sider how she wanted to ap­proach her other sport, and she re­turned to the WTA in 2016.

“It’s been a mag­i­cal two weeks,” Barty said.

Ad­dress­ing her coach and oth­ers in her guest box Satur­day, Barty said: “Thank you guys for stick­ing with me. It’s been the most amaz­ing jour­ney we’ve been on the last three years. And I feel like it’s just the start. Let’s go cel­e­brate tonight.”

The 38th-ranked Von­drousova was play­ing in only her ninth ma­jor tour­na­ment and this was her first trip be­yond the fourth round.

She hadn’t dropped a set over the past two weeks, us­ing a game filled with va­ri­ety and ev­ery shot in the book, a style her semi­fi­nal op­po­nent, Jo­hanna Konta, called “tricky.”

Wasn’t too tricky for Barty.

“She didn’t let me play my game,” Von­drousova said.

MICHEL EULER AP

Ash Barty kisses the tro­phy as she cel­e­brates winning her women’s fi­nal match of the French Open ten­nis tour­na­ment against Mar­keta Von­drousova on Satur­day.

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