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Ash Barty Wins 2021 Wimbledon Title over Karolina Pliskova for 2nd Career Grand Slam

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 10, 2021

AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

Ashleigh Barty captured her second Grand Slam singles title Saturday with a three-set victory (6-3, 6-7, 6-3) over Karolina Pliskova in the 2021 Wimbledon women's final at the All England Club in London.

Barty, the tournament's No. 1 seed, previously won the 2019 French Open and has held the top spot in the WTA Tour rankings since September 2019. She got off to a fast start in the championship match by winning the first four games, and she recovered after second-set surge from her eighth-seeded counterpart to take home the Venus Rosewater Dish.

Wimbledon @Wimbledon

Destiny fulfilled ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ<a href="https://twitter.com/ashbarty?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AshBarty</a> is our new Ladies' Singles Champion ๐Ÿ†<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Wimbledon?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Wimbledon</a> <a href="https://t.co/Yeh7wldDuv">pic.twitter.com/Yeh7wldDuv</a>

The 25-year-old Australian, who also earned a Grand Slam doubles title alongside CoCo Vandeweghe at the 2018 US Open, recorded 30 winners and seven aces in the win.

Pliskova was making her second appearance in a major final. She lost to Angelique Kerber in the 2016 US Open title match. The Czech veteran tallied 27 winners and 32 unforced errors on Saturday.

Barty dropped the second set in her opening-round win over Carla Suarez Navarro before winning 11 consecutive sets to reach the final. It was a run highlighted by victories over No. 14 seed Barbora Krejcikova and No. 25 seed Angelique Kerber.

It marked a return to form for the 2019 WTA Player of the Year, who was just starting to peak during the clay-court season after sitting out much of last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic when she suffered injuries that forced her to withdraw from the Italian Open and the French Open. 

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After beating Kerber in the semifinals, she admitted it was a close call as to whether she'd even get healthy in time to play in the Wimbledon draw.

"I think we had 23 or 24 days in between finishing up in Paris and my first round here," Barty told reporters. "To be honest, it was going to be touch-and-go. Everything had to be spot on to give myself a chance to play pain-free and to play knowing that I could trust my body."

She looked healthy Saturday and bounced back nicely to take early control of the deciding set after letting the championship briefly slip through her fingers late in the second.

Wimbledon @Wimbledon

We couldn't imagine a more deserving champion ๐Ÿค—<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Wimbledon?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Wimbledon</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/ashbarty?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ashbarty</a> <a href="https://t.co/MA8xNZWaF5">pic.twitter.com/MA8xNZWaF5</a>

Pliskova, 29, was a surprise finalist despite her top-10 ranking. She lost the first match in both of her grass-court warmup tournaments and hadn't advanced beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon in eight prior appearances.

The 16-time WTA Tour tournament winner benefited from a favorable draw, which allowed her to reach the semifinals without facing a seeded opponent, but there was nothing lucky about her hard-fought win over No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka in the event's penultimate round.

"I can't believe it because somehow coming into this tournament, the dream was to make the second week, because I [haven't been] in the second week for a while," Pliskova said before the championship match. "Never I thought about ... [making] the final."

She played well throughout the final two sets of the final, but she dropped one service game in the third set and could never get it back as Barty saved the only break point she faced en route to the title.

Looking ahead, Novak Djokovic will attempt to keep his hopes of winning the calendar Grand Slam alive when he faces Matteo Berrettini in the Wimbledon men's final Sunday.

Then the focus will shift toward Tokyo with five tennis gold medals on the line in the Summer Olympics. The men's and women's singles draws both start play on July 24.

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