Ashleigh Barty is the new World No.1 and the 2019 Nature Valley Classic champion after she defeated Julia Goerges 6-3 7-5 in the final in Birmingham.
The Australian’s victory is an ideal way to follow up her maiden Grand Slam title at Roland Garros. It also extends her current win streak to 12 matches and reflects her newly-acquired status of hardest player to beat on the WTA tour.
“(Going to No.1) was a very different feeling to winning the French Open,” Barty said. “The French in particular felt like a whirlwind and it’s just hard to put into words what we have been able to achieve over the last few years. To be where we are now is just incredible.”
Barty’s success has seen her follow in the footsteps of legendary Australian tennis player Evonne Goolagong. “I think I’m nowhere near her status,” the young Australian said. “To be mentioned in the same sentence is incredible.”
She continued, “Evonne is an amazing human being and has set the tone for so many Australians and so many indigenous Australians around our country and around the world. What she did in her career was incredible and what she continues to do off the court for us as a sport is amazing. To have her as a friend is amazing too and I’m sure I will be able to chat to her in the next few days.”
Goerges starts well but makes costly errors
Goerges made the stronger start to the match. She hit three amazing forehands in Barty’s opening service game and a total of six winners in the first four games. She also hit four aces.
However, the Australian stayed with her, and her steadiness paid dividends in game six as the German made six unforced errors during a sloppy service game to hand Barty a crucial break.
For the rest of the set, Goerges cut a frustrated figure and she made five more unforced errors to make it easy for the Australian to close it out 6-3.
Barty edges high-quality second set
The standard in the second set was superb. Goerges produced a series of lethal forehands to break in game two and then hit three aces in the next game to open up a 3-0 lead.
However, the German then made four consecutive unforced errors to surrender her serve in game five and suddenly the set was back in the balance.
The next four games were sprinkled with moments of brilliance. Barty hit a great passing shot and Goerges finished off an excellent point with a fantastic drop shot volley. The Australian also produced an improbably precise backhand winner, while the German unleashed her best backhand of the match to save a break point in game nine.
The end result of those games was a 5-4 scoreline in Goerges’ favour. This allowed the German to hit freely against Barty’s serve and she played some delightful shots to earn a set point.
Then the Australian demonstrated her ability to deliver under intense pressure. She hit an ace to save it and shortly afterwards produced another ace and an unreturnable serve to level the score at 5-5.
Goerges did not cope well with having that opportunity snatched away from her. She made a double fault and unforced error to give Barty a chance to break, and the Australian took it by forcing another error from the German.
Barty made serving for the championship look easy. She sent down an ace that landed on the service line and hit a classy forehand winner to claim two of the points, while Goerges made two unforced errors to hand her the other two.
When Goerges met Barty
After the match, it was obvious how happy the German was about her friend’s success. “Ash and I have a long story,” Goerges said. “When she was 15 years old and she got a wild card for the French Open, I was always talking to her, we had a lot of fun moments and then she retired.”
She continued, “I always thought she will come back one day because she loves the sport so much, but she just had enough at that time. We stayed in contact while she was playing cricket and to be able to share this moment with her was something special. If I had to choose to lose someone to today to become the No. 1, I would definitely pick her. That’s why it was very emotional for me.”
Julia Goerges Knocks Out 13th Seed Petra Martic At Australian Open 2020
Petra Martic became only the second WTA top 20 player to be knocked out of the 2020 Australian Open when she lost a tough three-set match to Julia Goerges.
If Petra Martic looked at the 2020 Australian Open draw and felt a sense of dread when she saw that she would probably face Julia Goerges in the second round, that would be entirely understandable.
The German, 31, is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous unseeded players at Melbourne Park this year. She possesses a huge serve and a brutal forehand. She has won seven WTA titles, appeared in ten other finals, and was once ranked World No.9. And she was seeded the last two times she participated in the first Grand Slam of the year.
To make matters worse for Martic, Goerges beat her in straight sets just seven months ago when then played at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham.
When you add all these ingredients together, you get the perfect recipe for an early exit from the 13th seed.
Ultimately, that is exactly what happened. But you would not have guessed it was going to during the first set, as Goerges made way too many unforced errors against a player as consistent as Martic.
Consequently, the German lost it 6-4. There was only one break of serve, but it came at a crucial time – the ninth game – and the Croatian then held easily to clinch the set.
Goerges keeps the faith
Despite this setback, Goerges never lost faith in her approach. She continued to attack – as she always does – but she also managed to cut down on the number of errors she made.
Unsurprisingly, this improvement yielded positive results for the 2018 Wimbledon semi-finalist. She hit eight winners (and made just five unforced errors) as she opened a 5-2 lead.
However, Goerges almost wasted her hard work. She made two unforced errors when she was serving for the set at 5-3 and suddenly found herself facing three break points. Fortunately for the German, she produced one winner and Martic made two errors to bring the score back to deuce. Then Goerges won the next two points to seal the set.
The third set was a strange affair. The German looked in control when she broke early and established a 4-2 lead.
However, she played an awful service game to allow the Croatian to break back and level the score at 4-4. Then she failed to convert two break points in the next game and Martic capitalised to move ahead.
To her great credit, Goerges remained resolute. She battled to a hold. Then she hit some sparkling winners and outlasted the 13th seed in a few long rallies to get the decisive break in game eleven. Finally, she hit three superb winners as she held to love to complete a hard-fought triumph.
Osaka glides into round three
Naomi Osaka continued her serene progress through the draw with a 6-2 6-4 victory over Zheng Saisai in the Margaret Court Arena.
Although she will be happy with the win, the defending champion will be keen to serve better in the next round. She was broken three times by the Chinese player and only won 57% of all the points played on her serve.
Osaka could face Coco Gauff in the last 32 for the second Grand Slam in a row. The American sensation takes on Sorana Cirstea in the second round later today.
Elsewhere in Melbourne, Sofia Kenin became the first player to make it through to the third round. She completed a 6-1 6-3 thrashing of American youngster Ann Li in just 57 minutes.
The 14th seed will now line up against Zhang Shuai in the third round. The experienced Chinese player beat American qualifier Catherine McNally 6-2 6-4.
Simona Halep Plays Down Injury Fears Following Australian Open Falls
Is the two-time grand slam champion facing the prospect of playing another grand slam tournament with an injury cloud looming over her head?
Fourth seed Simona Halep has said there is ‘nothing dangerous’ about her wrist after she awkwardly landed on it during her first round match at the Australian Open.
The reigning Wimbledon champion suffered a couple of falls throughout her at times tricky 7-6(5), 6-1, win over America’s Jennifer Brady. The person who stunned world No.1 Ash Barty in Brisbane earlier this year. During the first set it appeared as if the two-time grand slam champion hurt her right wrist following a fall. In the immediate aftermath, she had heavy strapping put on it.
It is not the first time Halep has suffered an early injury scare at the tournament. Two years ago, she rolled her ankle during her first round match. That was the same year where she reached the final of the tournament for the first time.
“A little bit sore, but nothing dangerous at this moment. So I will see tomorrow morning after I wake up.” Halep commented on her wrist.
“I don’t know why in the first round I always fall down. Maybe it’s a good sign. Let’s hope for that.” She added.
Despite the scare, the 28-year-old managed to secure a place in round two with the help of a dominant 27-minute second from from her. Producing 20 winners and winning 65% of her service points. Making it her 20th main draw match win at the Australian Open since 2011.
“I had just to push her back as much as possible, to make her run, playing a little bit both sides. I served pretty okay. And after that very tough set, in the second set I’ve been more relaxed. I’ve been a little bit more aggressive. I tried to finish some points, which I did.” She commented on her latest performance.
As one of a group of former grand slam champions in the women’s draw, Halep is among the favourites to lift the Melbourne title. Although she dismisses the theory that her previous triumphs place her on a stronger footing for her current tournament. On the women’s tour the last 12 major tournaments have been won by 10 different players. During that period Halep and Naomi Osaka are the only to have won multiple titles.
“It’s just a big, huge thing that I could win Wimbledon. For myself, it’s huge. But normally in life, it’s the same.” She explained.
“I had confidence before Wimbledon because I won the (2018) French Open, I won so many titles. So I don’t stay related to one tournament about the confidence. The confidence is coming with the matches. I feel good on the court now.”
Halep will play British qualifier Harriet Dart in the next round. The world No.173 scored a marathon 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(6) win over Japan’s Misaki Doi.
Maria Sharapova Fuels Retirement Speculation After Australian Open Exit
Is this the biggest hint yet that the Russian will be walking away from the sport this year?
Maria Sharapova has admitted that she is unsure if she will play in the Australian Open again following her first round loss in Melbourne Park on Tuesday.
Sharapova, who received a wild card into the main draw, fell 6-3, 6-4, to Croatian world No.20 Donna Vekic. Still on the comeback from a shoulder injury that hampered her 2019 season, the former world No.1 failed to capitalise on a 4-1 lead in the second set after dropping six consecutive games to crash out. Furthermore, Sharapova also produced almost twice as many errors compared to Vekic with 31 against 17.
“If I’m looking at that part of the match, it’s a combination of she definitely stepped up on those points, played well, played big, deep, and a little bit of making the wrong choices.” Sharapova reflected during her press conference.
Losing in the first round of Melbourne for the first time since 2010, speculation is mounting about Sharapova’s future in the world of tennis. When questioned by reporters, she said she ‘doesn’t know’ what will happen in 12 months time when asked if she will be returning to Australia. It was at the Australian Open where she played her first grand slam main draw match back in 2003 at the age of 15.
“I don’t know. I was fortunate to get myself to be here and thankfully to Craig (Tiley) and the team allowing me to be part of this event.” She said.
“It’s tough for me to tell what’s going to happen in 12 months’ time.”
The comment comes after what was a troublesome 2019 season. Due to injury issues, Sharapova only managed to play in eight tournaments in which she won eight matches. The five-time grand slam champion has now dropped to 144th in the world rankings. Her lowest position since starting her return from a doping ban back in 2017.
Whilst there is no immediate indication of a retirement from the sport, it is unclear as to what Sharapova’s plans are over the coming months. She is currently trained on the tour by prestigious Italian coach Riccardo Piatti. A partnership she intends to continue. Although she is unsure if she will be able to get in shape to play the tournaments she wants to.
“I would like to. I don’t know, I don’t have a crystal ball to tell you if I can or if I will, but I would love to.” Sharapova told reporters.
Should this year’s Australian Open be the last one for Sharapova, she exits with 15 main draw appearances. The 2008 champion has won 58 matches in what is her most successful grand slam tournament in terms of match wins to date.
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