CINCINNATI, OH, USA - Australian Ashleigh Barty knocked No.9 seed Venus Williams out of the Western & Southern Open on Wednesday to score her first career win over a Top 10 player, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2.
While Barty's reached new heights in singles in 2017, winning her first career title and hitting a career-high ranking inside the world's Top 50, the showpiece victory had previously been missing from her resume.
"it's really exciting to have my first Top 10 win. I've lost a few of them but have been getting closer and closer. I think today we played more of a complete match," Barty assessed. "I served well, which was going to be really important. I think I was able to, at times, not get into Venus' service games, but when I was able to, we tried to make the most of it. I think my slice today was very effective, as well."
The World No.48 had gone winless in four matches against Top 10 opposition this year, and 0-6 overall in her career.
"I'm having a great hard court season so far and loving the conditions here. To play Venus on such a big stage is a privilege for me and to play so well like I did, I'm really excited," the Aussie added. "She's a genuine champion of the game and has, I think, paved the way for us young players coming through.
"It's an honor for me to walk out on the the same court as her, be able to play against her and share the court with her. I was just really excited to play well and happy to be moving on."
Barty came out the aggressor from first ball in the match, as she struck 13 of her 37 winners in the opening set, to go along with six aces.
The Australian more than doubled the American's output of winners in the opening set, as the No.9 seed struck just five in contrast to 13 unforced errors.
Each player had just one break point opportunity in the set, and after Barty saved the lone chance she faced to hold for 3-2, broke the Williams serve at love to stamp her authority in the first set.
The second set proved the inverse of the first, though Barty still connected on more winners off the ground, but Williams grabbed an early break in the third game of the set and saw her lead off into a decider.
The American earned a second break to win the set, after Barty was unable to convert on a break point opportunity in the fifth and seventh games to get the match back on serve.
Williams raised her first serve percentage from 53% in the opener to 75% in the second set and also doubled her winner total from the first set as well, to post a statline of 10 winners to 12 unforced errors.
However, just as she did in the first set, Barty reset to begin the decider and quickly grabbed a lead she never relinquished.
Breaks in the third and fifth games helped see the Aussie through to the finish line, as she ended the match with a whopping 37 winners - including two forehands to help her hold at love for the win - to 38 unforced errors.
"To be able to beat a champion like Venus is just really cool, and I think that today we played really well and were able to execute on a big stage," Barty said. "It's never easy playing someone in their home country, and I think for me I didn't really think about that too much today. It was just a privilege for me to be able to share the court with Venus. I can now say I have played both Venus and Serena, which I think is pretty cool in a career in itself."
Added Williams in defeat: "She just played really well. She found openings in the court, was super consistent, and she just played really well. I just have to give her credit."