2021 Wimbledon: Ash Barty achieves her childhood dream!

That’s a wrap for Wimbledon 2021. On Saturday, Ash Barty achieved her childhood dream, winning a nerve-jangling three set finale against Karolina Pliskova, 6-3 6-7(4) 6-3, to win her first Wimbledon title. Also a hand for the women’s doubles final which was bloody fantastic! Hsieh Su-Wei defended her title, this time with Elise Mertens, saving two Championship points to beat Elena Vesnina and Veronika Kudermetova, 3-6 7-5 9-7. What a day of tennis and what an amazing two weeks. I know the Wimby withdrawals are going to hit hard next week. Read on for my final post…

Final Highlights πŸ†

This final between Ash Barty and Karolina Pliskova was the first three set Wimbledon final since 2012 when Serena Williams beat Agnieszka Radwanska. Just like the semi-finals on Thursday, the streak of straight setters was snapped! The quality of tennis wasn’t the best but the drama and excitement helped to make this a captivating final. Let’s try and recap how it unfolded…

Barty got off to a quick start, winning the first 14 points! My goodness did Pliskova look nervous at the start. Pliskova’s first serve was 84mph and she was barely moving. I started thinking of her last final against Iga Swiatek in Rome. It was 16 straight games lost if you join up to that Rome final. I was relieved when Pliskova won her first point and then her first game. There was a wry smile! Barty played a solid opener and didn’t give much away, at least early on. I thought the level was shaky from both players… and that is completely understandable considering the occasion of playing their first Wimbledon final. Barty played a convincing game to close out the first set, 6-3.

I thought Pliskova was settling at the start of the second set. Then at 1-1, Pliskova played an absolute shocker of a service game with two double faults and two forehand errors. Barty led 6-3 3-1* 30-30*. Cue a plot twist. Pliskova began to find some rhythm on her serve and hit more freely. A cracking forehand return winner helped Pliskova break back to level the second set at 3-3.

The second set went with serve until 5-5. Pliskova looked comfortable on serve at *40-0. A miss at the net let Barty back in who played her smartest game of the match. Barty kept blocking and chipping returns back into play, no mean feat up against the Pliskova serve, and her backhand slice was absolutely lethal. The bite was immense! Barty broke to bring up an opportunity to serve for the Championships at 6-3 *6-5. Barty was broken to 15. Eek. Barty’s first serve completely evaded her as Pliskova landed a series of deep meaningful returns. Into the second set tiebreak and Pliskova had the momentum, the crowd and the luck! Two net cords went Pliskova’s way and the crowd was definitely behind her. Us Brits love an underdog! Barty double faulted on Pliskova’s third set point. One set all.

Barty opened the third set with crucial hold at deuce as she found some first serves again. Pliskova’s second set momentum disappeared in a flash as Barty broke straight away, thanks to a shocking Pliskova miss at the net. Barty then consolidated the break to lead 3-0 in the third set. All Barty had to do was hold her serve from here on in and she did. It doesn’t tell the whole story though!

Barty’s last three service games all went to 30-30. The first serve was up and down in the decider. When serving for the Championship at *5-3, Barty missed just ONE first serve and that was on match point! It was another nervy game and Barty sent a forehand drive volley into the net at 30-30. I was officially losing my s**t at this point πŸ˜‚. But Barty hung in, somehow dug out an incredible shot from a Pliskova return down *30-40 – I want to see that point again! Barty brought up her first Championship point and she converted!

Final Analysis πŸ€”

I was rooting for Barty in this final. I’m really glad though that Pliskova managed to shake off the nerves and make it such a thrilling contest. Through the first six rounds, Pliskova had dropped her serve just four times. Barty broke it six times alone in the final. While Pliskova got her serve going midway through the second set, it wasn’t the reliable weapon that it has been for the entire tournament. Pliskova and Barty won the same percentage of points behind the first serve but it was the second serve stats that were telling – Barty won 54% of points behind her second serve compared to just 35% for Pliskova.

Pliskova began to open up in the second and third sets. Generally though, I felt she was mostly passive in the rallies and that must have been connected in some part to the nerves because it was night and day in comparison to how she played Sabalenka. Barty had the clearer gameplan, using the backhand slice to neutralise and hold her ground in the rallies and then look for the forehand. The Barty slice was *the* shot in the first set and at the very end of the second set when she served for it. Pliskova definitely seemed to deal it with better as the match wore on. I thought Barty’s forehand was *the* shot in the third set and she didn’t shy away from taking it on.

This was a sensationally unexpected run from Pliskova. It’s been such a strange year for Karolina! I think her level has been well below par for much of the year but i’d go as far to say that she probably played her best ever tennis at this tournament, particularly in the quarters and semis. I am curious to see where she goes from here.

My key takeaway for Barty is her remarkable resilience and ability to reset. Barty served for the Championships at 6-3 *6-5 and there’s no sugar coating it, she was tight… and who wouldn’t be?! And then to lose the second set tiebreak on a double fault with the crowd firmly behind Pliskova? How do you come back from that mentally?!?! Just watching the match, I was shaking πŸ˜‚. I can’t even put into words my appreciation for the mental strength that Barty demonstrated. This match followed a trend of many Barty matches in 2021. It’s the 11th time (!) this year that she has won the first set, wobbled in the second but managed to reset and come back to win the third.

I’ve written a lot about Ash on the blog. She is my favourite player to watch and I was so invested in this match. I was a wreck. I wanted her to win today so badly! Barty’s tennis IQ is second-to-none with the way she constructs tennis points. I love the backhand slice and the way she uses it to drive her opponents crazy and ultimately get the rally on her own terms so she can dictate with her forehand.

And Ash is such a nice, down-to-earth person. I’m a sucker for a nice person. I’ve seen a lot of negativity on Tennis Twitter over the past year about Ash which I just can’t fathom. Basically I need to get off Twitter and just live in my own happy tennis bubble πŸ˜‚ . I’m absolutely thrilled for Ash and it’s the happiest i’ve been at a Slam result for a while. Even with the recency bias, I honestly think Ash will go onto win multiple Wimbledons. Ash, you’re a superstar ⭐.

Super stat πŸ”’

Could it be any more fitting or poignant that Barty won 50 years after Evonne Goolagong Cawley won her first Wimbledon title and was wearing a dress to commemorate that moment. Ash was holding it together in the post-match interview with Sue Barker until she mentioned Evonne 😭.

Best point  🎾

Two fantastic points that captured the imagination of the crowd.

Funny moment 🀣

This reaction was to a Pliskova miss. Billie Jean King’s reaction πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ .

Snap of the day πŸ“Έ

I knew this would do the rounds. Will never get old.

Press highlights πŸ“°

Ash’s final press conference. She expanded on the hip injury from the French 😲!

Recommended media πŸ“Ί

The post-match interviews with Sue. The emotions from both players πŸ˜₯. It was a draining match!

Recommended reading πŸ“š

ICYMI: My diary from visiting Wimbledon in the first week of the Championships.

Memories πŸ€”

Wimbledon 2021. It’s been a special one. It was always going to be like this after the overwhelming void that a cancelled Wimbledon created last year. I think it’s been an especially good Wimby with so many memorable moments. In the first week, each day I expected things to calm down but the talking points kept coming thick and fast. Just to name a few – from Carla’s delightful send-off on Centre Court to the arrival of Emma Raducanu and the Ostapenko-Tomljanovic drama! πŸ˜‚

It was a tournament that produced many great matches that will definitely be in my thoughts come the end of the season with the best matches countdown. The ones that spring to mind – Kerber vs. Sorribes Tormo, Jabeur vs. Muguruza, Pliskova vs. Sabalenka, Barty vs. Kerber and Sabalenka vs. Boulter. And personally i’m thrilled how it ended with Ash winning her first ever Wimbledon title!!!

Time for a break on the blog. Thanks for all your comments and I loved reading them all! πŸ™‚

Wimbledon

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16 thoughts on “2021 Wimbledon: Ash Barty achieves her childhood dream!

  1. It was no classic final, by any means. But it was definitely entertaining, once Pliskova shook off the nerves. There was some lovely tennis from both – stellar ball striking from the Czech and all court craft from the Aussie.

    Very happy that Barty won. It’s the first slam I’ve predicted correctly in quite some time haha!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed, not a classic, but glad to get a competitive final and the first three setter for a while. You always had faith with Ash! I definitely had a wobble after her second round match πŸ˜‚

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  2. Congrats to Ashleigh Barty who is very humble and sporting and a great ambassador for the sport of tennis.

    Well done to James for predicting from the outset that Ashleigh would win Wimbledon and many thanks for all his hard work and information and insight in his blogs.

    It was a better final than I was expecting and I got it totally wrong about Ashleigh being more tense than Karolina at the start of the match. Wimbledon has been very enjoyable this year overall with some great matches and lots of emotion and it is wonderful to have the spectators back.

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    • Thanks, Peter. It was a more exciting final than I was expecting too. I also though Ash would be more tense at the start! It’s been a great tournament. I’m looking forward to the Olympics but no fans. That’s going to be a tough watch I think πŸ˜”.

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      • Yes, it will be difficult viewing especially after Wimbledon as I am used to watching tennis with spectators now so I will probably only watch the highlights. I have wondered if Naomi should consider taking a couple of years away from tennis like Ashleigh did as I have thought for a while that Naomi’s heart is not really in playing tennis anymore and a break may renew her enthusiasm for it.

        I have not watched the U.S. Open since 2018 but may watch it this year. I understand that they will have spectators and the matches are often shown at a convenient time in the evenings here due to the time difference.

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      • It sounds like Naomi will be back for the Olympics. I hope she does what is best for her. If you didn’t know already, US Open is on Amazon Prime, Peter. Their coverage was excellent last year. I’ve also read it’s going to be 100% capacity!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s weird because I watched this live and to me I think this was a Wimbledon classic (at least in recent times) and predict it will be one of the best finals this decade. But that didn’t seem to translate to the TV viewer.

    Interested to see what happens at the US now. I think it will be similar to the French with lots of upsets but right now I think someone like Swiatek or Gauff will take it.

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    • I don’t think it helps that the commentators often make such disparaging comments for the women’s matches. Even the female commentators are very quick to turn negative. From Pliskova’s first error, they just wouldn’t shut up about how nervous she was. And it really did a discredit to Barty, who came out of the blocks playing her best stuff.

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      • To be honest, I was more focused on what Pliskova was doing at the start. Obviously Barty started really well. It was hard to ignore that Pliskova missed so many first serves and she wasn’t moving particularly well.

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    • It was one of the most exciting finals of recent times and particularly compared to recent Wimbledon finals which have been very one-sided. Not sure it was a classic for me. I think I was too invested in wanting Ash to win to really make a judgement.

      The US will be fascinating as always and I’m sure there will be lots of upsets. Interested to see the court speed as it seems to have varied over recent years.

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  4. Nothing much to add to what’s been said really. I was worried for Karo as the first set wore on and when it reached 4-0 I thought the final looked like turning into a whitewash, but she found her tennis legs, started serving better, relaxed and grew into the game and it became a competitive match.

    I hope she wins a slam at some point though (the queue of players whom I’d like to see winning a slam is startting to get long now).

    There was a nice backstory to Ash’s win because Evonne Goolagong won the tournament for the first time in 1971, so fifty years ago, and she and Ash are close; Ash has acknowledged her as her mentor. Australia’s clearly taken her to their hearts, and deservedly so, in a way they haven’t done with other players they’ve had recently.

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  5. Congratulations to Belinda who won the singles gold in the Olympics, the Czech pair (Barbora and Katerina) who won the women’s doubles, and Nastia and Andrey who won the mixed doubles.

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