MIAMI, FL, USA -- Ashleigh Barty continued to hit new milestones during a breakthrough event, as the No.12 seed from Australia picked up a rain-plagued semifinal win over No.21 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia, 6-3, 6-3, to reach the biggest final of her career on Thursday at the Miami Open.
"Obviously the weather is something that we can't control, and a little bit frustrating that a couple of times we got on, it was a pretty quick shower straightaway," Barty said in her post-match press conference. "You just have to try and sit back and kind of make the most of the time you have off the court and know that once you do get back on you have to switch on straightaway."
22-year-old Barty already clinched a Top 10 debut next week by virtue of her quarterfinal win over No.3 seed Petra Kvitova -- her first win in five attempts against the Czech -- and the Australian extended her run through Miami by claiming a victory in her first meeting with Kontaveit after just an hour and 16 minutes of play.
Barty out-winnered Kontaveit by 13 to 11, and the Australian won a superlative 83 percent of points when she got her first serve into play. Kontaveit dropped serve five times and came unglued with a whopping 33 unforced errors throughout the tilt.
"I'm so proud of myself and my team for trusting the process and enjoying the journey," Barty added. "I think we have had some amazing opportunities on the court to do some pretty special things.
"I think now we have another opportunity in a couple days' time to go out there and try and play a really good match. Obviously it's another chance at a title. Really excited to be in this position."
Barty will now try to notch the biggest title of her career when she faces the winner of the late semifinal between No.2 seed Simona Halep of Romania and No.5 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic. Barty has a 2-2 win-loss record against Pliskova, while she has lost two of her three clashes with Halep.
"A tough one both ways," Barty admitted. "Obviously I would expect nothing else."
"I think either way I get to go out there and try and play my brand of tennis, which is probably the most important thing for either matchup," the Australian added.
Kontaveit’s aggressive play served her well in the early stages of the match, holding in the first game before crunching a powerful backhand crosscourt return to break for a 2-0 lead. But in the next game, the first of multiple rain delays occurred, and after a brief hiatus, Barty came back more aggressive and broke to get the set back on serve.
After an easy hold by Barty for 2-2, a much lengthier rain delay ensued, keeping the players off the court for hours. Upon their return, Barty handled the prolonged absence much better, claiming a break of serve to lead 4-3 after Kontaveit fired a series of miscues.
Barty maneuvered to a hold for 5-3, saving a break point with a gutsy overhead, then used fiery forehands to reach triple set point in the next game. A double fault by Kontaveit caused her to drop serve at love, handing Barty a one-set lead after an opening frame where the Australian won 87 percent of points on her first serve.
In the second set, Kontaveit took advantage of some wide groundstroke errors by Barty to clinch an early break for 2-1, and the Estonian used strong serving to consolidate and reach 3-1. But Kontaveit was never quite able to fully shake off her own unforced errors, and Barty was able to ride those to leveling the set at 3-3.
Barty once again used strong serving to grind through a tough game, evading a break point to hold for 4-3. The Australian then claimed the pivotal break of serve in the next game, after two straight points from deuce ending in Kontaveit forehand errors caused the Estonian to lose serve once more.
The Australian reached double match point in the next game, and though Kontaveit fended off one with a superb drop shot for a winner, Barty always had her stellar serve in her back pocket when she needed it most, and Monday’s newest member of the Top 10 fired an ace to polish off a noteworthy victory.