The woman at the top of the WTA rankings finished on top at the Miami Open. Ashleigh Barty defeated an injured No.8 seed Bianca Andreescu 6-3, 4-0, ret. on Saturday to successfully defend her title.
Barty has now won 12 consecutive matches at the Miami Open, including the 2019 championship, although her first meeting with fellow Grand Slam champion Andreescu ended prematurely when the Canadian suffered an injury at 2-0 in the second set, then retired two games later.
"It's never the way you ever want to finish a match, particularly in a final," Barty said in her post-match press conference. "I really do feel for Bianca. I think she's had such a rough trot with injuries in the past.
"I think that's going to be one of the first of many battles for us. I just hope from now on they are healthy and we can both stay out on the court and fight for everything that we can give. Obviously I feel for her having to pull out today."
Barty becomes the sixth woman to defend the Miami Open crown, following in the legendary footsteps of Stefanie Graf (1987-88, 1994-96), Monica Seles (1990-91), Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario (1992-93), Venus Williams (1998-99), and Serena Williams (2002-04, 2007-08, 2013-15). Each of these six players has held the World No.1 ranking.
"They are genuine champions of our sport, legends of our sport," Barty said, regarding that fact. "I feel very privileged to be mentioned in that sentence, and it's very cool and something I was unaware of. But I think it's extremely humbling to be mentioned in the same sentence as those champions, [and] I feel like I've got a long, long way to go yet before I can be in discussion with those names."
Barty is the first No.1 seed to win the Miami Open since Serena Williams in 2015. Barty will remain at World No.1 after her title defense.
Barty completed an impressive turnaround from the start of the event. In her two-and-a-half-hour opening match against Kristina Kucova (her first match off of Australian soil in over a year), Barty needed to save a match point before staving off the challenge from the qualifier.
The top seed was able to battle through the draw from there (including three-set wins over Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka), earning her 10th WTA singles title in the process.
"I felt like with each match I have been playing better and better, which is ultimately what we are after," Barty said. "To be able to have the title at the end is a bonus, and to be able to defend my title the first time in my career I've been able to do that is really, really special too."
Andreescu’s arduous trip through the draw, which included four three-setters in a row en route to the final, came to a unlucky end in the final. The Canadian had already missed the entirety of the 2020 season due to injuries, and Miami was only her third event in the past two seasons.
Still, Andreescu's bold run to the final means she still boasts a stunning 33-3 win-loss record in North America since the start of 2019. Additionally, Andreescu is projected to move up three spots in the WTA rankings to World No.6.
"I really fought through very tough matches," Andreescu said in her post-match press conference. "My body seemed to be good up until today. I think it was just, like, a freak accident.
"But other than that, I'm super grateful. One of my first tournaments back in a really long time, and all I can say is that I'm super grateful."
Barty’s relied on her impressive forehand to build an early lead. She broke Andreescu for 2-0 with a passing winner off of that side, then held on with ease to consolidate for 3-0.
However, holding a 40-0 lead to take a 4-1 advantage, Andreescu’s grit in rallies forced miscues from the racquet of Barty, and the Canadian stormed back in that game, earning her first break of the day to get back on serve.
A protracted game followed, where strong serving by Andreescu helped her save two early break points. But a forehand winner off the netcord went the way of Barty, giving the Australian a third break point, and Barty clinched that one by ending an all-court rally with a backhand crosscourt winner.
Barty held on from there to wrap up the one-set lead. She slammed 11 winners, including three aces to Andreescu’s six in the opening frame.
After double-faulting to cede an early break in the first game of the second set, Andreescu was already facing a deficit when she tripped and fell at 2-0. Andreescu played on for two more games, but in tears and obviously distressed, the Canadian was unable to continue beyond that point.