In the lone women’s match on Wednesday’s day session on Center Court, Ashleigh Barty scored the biggest win of her career by beating the number nine seed, Venus Williams in three sets, 6-3 2-6 6-2. Barty also reached the third round of Toronto last week and is continuing to build on what has been a fantastic season in which she has risen more than 200 places in the rankings into the world’s top 50.
There wasn’t a great deal to separate the pair in the first set with both serving well and taking time to find their range on the groundstrokes. Williams wasn’t really moving her feet but stayed in touch early doors on serve. The American had a few openings on return – she managed to get to deuce in three of Barty’s four service games, yet it was the Aussie who held firm and eventually took the set, thanks a streak of ten straight points where she broke and held serve to love. In the end, just one lapse service game from Williams was the difference.
In the second set, Willliams was gritty, resolute and resourceful. The American scored the vital break with a stunning passing shot winner from an awkward position. Williams then staved off danger on serve leading *3-1 and saved a break point with some big serves in the pressure moments.
Barty’s coach came on at the changeover and advised her to throw in more backhand slices, open up the court to use her forehand and throw in a mix of serves. She took on board the advice and played a fine third set – most notably, she was able to rely on her serve, getting 77% of first serves in and showcasing wonderful variety with a handful of body serves. Barty twice broke an increasingly vulnerable Williams serve and was calm and composed, serving out the match to love.
Winners to unforced errors ratio between sets were as follows:
Williams: Set 1 5-10, Set 2 10-12 and Set 3 8-9
Barty: Set 1 13-15, Set 2 11-16 and Set 3 13-7
24 of Barty’s winners came off the forehand wing.
There’s quite a few contender for the WTA Breakthrough of the year, but Barty has to be up there. The Aussie has it all and I just love her game – she has so many weapons. Considering her stature, the serve is a massive weapon to have in women’s tennis and she has so much variety on it. In this match, Williams never really managed to get a solid read on it. I always felt that Barty was playing within herself and was in control her game, and she took on board the tips from her coach at the end of the second set and executed them brilliantly in the decider.
Williams didn’t look so sprightly today after a superb first round performance against Riske. Still, the American gave it her all and had a shot after winning the second set. Despite her spirit and determination, playing matches on back-to-back days is a tough ask for Venus.
Next up in R3…
Barty will play Caroline Wozniacki in the 3rd round. It’s a fascinating match-up as Barty has all the weapons there to disrupt Wozniacki. Whether she do it on a consistent basis and for two sets against Woz who has been playing so well of late… we’ll just have to wait and see!