The 2021 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix is officially in the books as Ash Barty won her third title of 2021, beating Aryna Sabalenka in Sunday’s final, 3-6 6-0 6-3. I was hoping to blog all week but other things got in the way and then was meeting some family and friends this weekend for the first time in so long! The tournaments keep on coming with Madrid, a WTA 1000 event, starting next Thursday. I’m hoping to at least cover some of that tournament with the added bonus of a Bank Holiday weekend. Read on for the wrap-up from Stuttgart…
Final result 🏆
I was getting strong vibes of a Stuttgart classic as Barty and Sabalenka both began this final in supreme form on serve and clutch when facing break points. It didn’t really materialise with some scrappy moments in the final two sets. Still, i’m a fan of the Barty-Sabalenka match-up and I think it has real traction to be a head-to-head to saviour in the years to come with a wonderful contrast in game styles and personality.
There were quite a few parallels in this final to the match that Barty and Sabalenka played in Miami which Barty won, 6-4 6-7(3) 6-3. Three sets. Sabalenka dealing with an injury (she took a medical time-out in between the second and third sets of this final and came back with a strapped leg). And the key similarity for me, Barty managing to deliver a consistently high level from start to finish. Sabalenka’s form wavered from tremendous in the first set to pretty terrible in the second as Barty reeled off nine games in a row. It didn’t really feel like much of a gear change from Barty, more just keeping her level high and capitalising on the lapse from Sabalenka.
The seventh game of the deciding set was the clincher. Barty managed to consolidate her re-break, winning a six deuce game and saving three break points to hold to 5-2. The aspects of the Barty game that stood out to me in this final were the cross-court forehand which was really effective in exposing Sabalenka out wide on her forehand wing. Barty looked sharp with her movement with a handful of fabulous gets moving forwards to the net. A very promising sign in her first tournament of the year on clay.
That’s now three titles in 2021 for Barty at the Yarra Valley, Miami and Stuttgart. This was a different kind of run to the last two. Barty’s been a great starter this year, often coming back from a mid-match blip to win in three. This week was different as she had to battle back from a set down on three occasions. In two of those matches her opponent served for the match. The constant though is that Barty has been knocking off top ten players all over the shop. Barty has won her last nine matches (!) against top ten players and hasn’t lost to one since the WTA Finals in Shenzhen in 2019. Stuttgart clay is very different to Roland Garros clay but I think Ash will be one of the firm favourites for Paris.
Favourite snap 📸
Absolutely delightful news from Carla this week.
Stuttgart is always a memorable week on the tour. They put on a great show as always although I did miss the crowd more than other tournaments. There were some quality moments, notably the third set of Kvitova-Sakkari and the first set of Svitolina-Kerber. What I saw of Barty-Svitolina was good. Still waiting for a match that moves me from start to finish. Is it just me or have there not been many obvious MOTY contenders so far?
I underestimated Sabalenka this year. She’s had a great start to 2021 and built on the momentum that she carried into the year from 2020. Clay’s not her surface but I feel like it could be with the right application and mindset? Another superb week for Ash Barty who continues to carry the world number one flame with confidence and authority.