This is the second of two posts counting down my favourite matches of 2019. Part 1 featured matches 20 to 11 which can be found HERE. While there was a plethora of good matches in 2019, picking a favourite this year was really difficult as there wasn’t a stand-out match in my opinion. I’d love to hear what your favourite match of the season was so please do sound off in the comments!
10. Elina Svitolina d. Ash Barty, 7-6(8) 5-7 6-4 (Indian Wells, R4)
At the time, this was the longest match of the season at three hours and 12 minutes as Svitolina wore down Barty in an extremely physical battle in the desert. The first set, one I stayed up for on a school night (😮😂), was one of the best sets of the year. Missed opportunities was one of the overriding themes of this match as all three sets should have gone the other way. In the first two sets, the player who won the set had saved set points, and in the case of the second set, match points. While Svitolina triumphed in this clash, Barty would go on to earn her first ever win over Svitolina in six tries in the final match of the year in Shenzhen.
9. Naomi Osaka d. Petra Kvitova, 7-6(2) 5-7 6-4 (Australian Open, Final)
The Australian Open was one of the best Slams in years and it was capped off with a superb final. It was a tortuous, dramatic match with flashes of real genuine quality. Osaka missed three Championship points, leading 7-6 5-3, as a defiant Kvitova pounced on an Osaka lapse to force a third set. Osaka’s ability to reset in the highest of high pressure moments was staggering as she came back to win in three sets and make it back-to-back Slam titles. I was sad for Petra but it was still a special moment to see her in the final of a Slam again and to see how much this result meant to her.
8. Serena Williams d. Victoria Azarenka, 7-5 6-3 (Indian Wells, R2)
The Indian Wells draw threw up some blockbuster clashes in the second round and this one, fittingly staged on the evening of International Women’s Day, lived up to expectation and then some. Considering the cold and windy conditions, Serena and Vika played an extraordinarily high-quality match that was rocking with intensity. Serena’s first serve in the crux moments was ultimately the difference between the pair. I hope it’s not the last time we see them play each other as it is arguably the most exciting match-up we’ve witnessed on the WTA tour in the past decade.
7. Belinda Bencic d. Aryna Sabalenka, 6-4 2-6 7-6(7) (Dubai, R3)
Delivering up a delightful slice of WTA drama, Belinda Bencic saved SIX match points to beat Aryna Sabalenka in the third round of Dubai. It was one of four top ten wins in what was a banner week (and year) for Bencic. It was wonderful to see Bencic playing with so much confidence. Her ability to take the ball so early was a key factor to her triumph in Dubai. A great match, that would have been higher in my list if it hadn’t ended on an error-strewn tiebreak. Both ended with positive stats as the pair combined for a total of 83 winners.
6. Caroline Garcia d. Donna Vekic, 2-6 7-6(4) 7-6(4) (Nottingham, Final)
Nottingham has produced some classics of late and this year’s final, one of the few matches to actually be played on the grass after a miserably wet week, was another memorable match. It all came together for Garcia in the final as she clutched her way to the title. Vekic was understandably gutted at the end but there was great sportswomanship from both which made the occasion even more special. Despite the loss and a rough run of draws on her favourite surface, Vekic steadily progressed throughout the year and finished inside the world’s top 20 for the first time in her career.
5. Serena Williams d. Simona Halep, 6-1 4-6 6-4 (Australian Open, R4)
I remember this match well because I was off work and feeling rotten, and it really cheered me up. The match was much anticipated but I didn’t stand Halep much of a shot having played just one competitive match in the three months prior to the Australian Open. Serena was in menacing form as she danced through the opener. Halep fought valiantly to level the match at one set all and ultimately went toe-to-toe with Serena in a fascinating third set. I honestly thought Serena was a shoe-in for the title after this match.
4. Anastasija Sevastova d. Elise Mertens, 6-7(3) 6-4 11-9 (French Open, R3)
This particular match wasn’t even on my radar at the start of the day. The match blossomed into a classic as Sevastova saved five match points to beat Mertens in an extra-time finish and a third set of tremendous quality that lasted 108 minutes. Sevastova is a puzzling player – at times, frozen with frustration and anxiety, and other times, able to conjure up some of the most majestic tennis imaginable. The third match point save from Sevastova will live long in the memory.
3. Bianca Andreescu d. Angelique Kerber, 6-4 3-6 6-4 (Indian Wells, Final)
Very few matches from Indian Wells have featured in my countdowns before and I don’t think that’s a coincidence with the unique conditions and slow courts not lending themselves to high quality tennis. This year was an anomaly as this is the 4th match from Indian Wells to feature in my countdown. There are always surprises though and 2019 was no different as the 18-year-old, Bianca Andreescu stormed to her first WTA title in what was an incredible year. The Canadian player beat the likes of Garbiñe Muguruza, Elina Svitolina and Angelique Kerber, the latter in a thriller of a final.
This was such a gripping match with an undeniable hook as Andreescu, in a winning position in the third set, battled cramps against one of the most experienced players on tour. The Canadian player willed herself to the win; mentally resilient, tactically on point and devastating with her forehand. Not many players would have been able to come back mentally from missing three match points when serving for the match. Andreescu is clearly no ordinary player.
2. Taylor Townsend d. Simona Halep, 2-6 6-3 7-6(4) (US Open, R2)
The US Open produced some sensational storylines and one of my favourites was Taylor Townsend. Always touted for having an exciting, unique game, Townsend put it altogether in a bold display of aggressive net-charging display to oust the Wimbledon champion, Simona Halep. Townsend had endured a heartbreaker at Wimbledon where she failed to convert on a match point in her second round match against Kiki Bertens. This match seemed to destined to follow the same course as Townsend failed to take advantage of match points deep in the third set.
Townsend rallied to save a match point of her own and showed utter belief in her game as she continued to bravely charge the net. This was an absolute thriller of a match for both quality and drama, and it was a ray of sunshine amongst the majority of baseline-dominated matches. A real feel-good moment as a tearful Townsend scored the biggest win of her life.
1. Ash Barty d. Kiki Bertens, 6-7(4) 6-4 7-5 (Sydney, SF)
This was one of those rare matches that managed to produce sustained quality and intensity for its entirety. Barty backed up her triumph over the world number one, Simona Halep by completing the Mertens-Bertens double to make it back-to-back finals in Sydney. Both players served superbly and had moments of real clutchness. Barty nailed an absolute peach of a volley at 5-5 in the third set which helped her on the way to the lone break in the decider.
Barty and Bertens played each other four times in 2019 and all four clashes went the distance. Their clash in Beijing, where Barty saved a match point in a tense third set tiebreak, was a fascinating watch, but it was this match I remember watching back in awe in January. Nothing has topped it for me in terms of pure quality and it was just the start of a truly stunning year for Ash Barty.