Barty Dominates, Wins Australian Open WC
Published December 11, 2011 12:00
MELBOURNE, Australia - After a stellar week in which she didn't lose a set, 15-year-old Ashleigh Barty conquered the Australian Open Wildcard Play-Off, and will now be playing in her very first Grand Slam in just five weeks.
Barty won all three of her round robin matches in straight sets, including a 63 63 win over the No.1 seed, Casey Dellacqua. She then had a 75 63 semifinal win over No.6 seed Arina Rodionova, younger sister of Anastasia Rodionova, before beating No.2 seed Olivia Rogowska in Sunday's final, 76(6) 62.
It wasn't a smooth start for Barty in the final, as she fell behind 5-2 in the first set; but she began mixing in some off-pace slices and rally shots with her powerful serves and groundstrokes, forcing back-to-back forehand errors from Rogowska in the last two points of the tie-break. She rolled in the second set.
"Liv and I are pretty good friends but we had never played before. She came out really well and was playing some really good tennis, and it was hard to get used to her ball," Barty said. "She's tough. I think I was just able to keep a little more solid towards the end of that first set and at the start of the second set.
"I was just going to come out here and have some fun this week, especially against Casey, but I've played five or six good matches in a row now."
After the final, which took place on Court 6, Barty was presented with flowers and her Australian Open accreditation pass. "I'll probably go out there and play some horrendous tennis and be really nervous, but I'll have fun," Barty joked about her upcoming Grand Slam debut. "I'll probably keep to myself in the locker room, just stay in the corner and hide from everyone. But we'll see."
Barty first made headlines by winning her first Grand Slam junior title at Wimbledon this year. She is currently No.3 in the juniors - so far she has only played one WTA-level event, the US Open qualifying at the end of the summer.
How is her game developing? "My serve's a little bit bigger, my game's a little bit bigger and I'm moving a little bit better. Everything's coming together nicely."