World number one Ashleigh Bart on Sunday won the season-opening Adelaide International trophy by defeating Elena Rybakina in straight sets. Barty showed why she is the Australian Open favourite as she demolished the Kazakhstan tennis player 6-3, 6-2 in just 64 minutes. This is Barty’s second WTA title in South Australia. She won her first Adelaide International title in 2020. The win improved Barty’s record against top-20 rivals to 17-1 since the beginning of 2021.
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The 25-year-old Australian has been in superb form this week, defeating a host of top players in a stacked top half of the draw. She received a first round bye, but then overcame Coco Gauff (world No.22), Sofia Kenin (12) and Iga Swiatek (9) on her way to the final.
The pair were evenly matched over the first six games, but the match quickly turned in Barty’s favour after a crucial hold of serve by the Australian at 3-3. Rybakina won the point of the match at 15-15, and a double fault gave the Kazakh two chances to lead 4-3. A missed forehand from Rybakina and a Barty ace brought the World No.1 back to deuce, and she then stormed into the title.
“We’ve obviously had a brilliant week, been able to work progressively through each match,” Barty said after the match. “I got better and better. I felt like today there were really a few key moments early in the first set to gain momentum. I was really happy to be able to get a couple of early breaks in the second and run away with it.”
After a second-round victory against Coco Gauff, where she came from a set and a break down to win, Barty never lost serve again in the tournament—a streak of 35 consecutive games.
Barty was in complete control as she took the first set in 29 minutes and won a run of seven straight games. She broke Rybakina’s first two service games of the second set to take a stranglehold on the match as she raced away to a 4-0 lead.
Rybakina struggled to cope with Barty’s range of stroke-making, especially the sliced backhand. She was forced to go for big winners rather than out-rally the Australian, and made 26 unforced errors.
In her last three rounds against Sofia Kenin, Iga Swiatek and Rybakina, Barty served up a combined 28 aces and saved all four break points she faced. Barty’s serve has improved immensely and on the few times she was under pressure she was able to serve out of it. Against Rybakina, Barty lost just 13 points in nine service games overall, hitting 17 winners to 13 unforced errors.
“I probably felt like overall this week my serve has been a real weapon,” Barty said. “I felt like I struggled with rhythm early on in the week and I’ve been able to progressively get better and better. To go a few matches unbroken is really good.”
Barty is in very good form heading into the first Grand Slam. The 2021 Wimbledon champion added “I feel good leading up to an Australian Open like I have every year,” Barty said. “Each and every preparation is unique, each and every preparation is different. So we take it for what comes and what it is, move on, try and do the best that we can in every opportunity, whether that’s here in Adelaide or it’s in Melbourne.
“It has absolutely no effect on the way that I prepare or the way I’m thinking leading forward just because it’s a Grand Slam. Doesn’t change for us. We look forward, we do what we can, then we see how we go.”