BIRMINGHAM, England – No.77-ranked Ashleigh Barty is through to the biggest final of her career after taking down Garbiñe Muguruza in three sets at the Aegon Classic Birmingham.
The No.6 seed Muguruza, a former Wimbledon finalist, bossed the first set but couldn’t contain the Aussie as she mounted her comeback to win 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
“I think she played very well,” Muguruza said in her post-match press conference. “She was very smart with the slice, which I think is a difficult shot on the grass.
“Of course I'm disappointed because I thought, you know, I could do the same as the previous matches and get a victory. But I guess the other one played much better today.”
A strong serving performance gave Muguruza the edge in the opening set; she got 81% of her first serves in, firing off three aces and not allowing Barty a look at a break opportunity all set long.
But in the second it was all about Barty’s groundstrokes, as the Aussie honed in on Muguruza’s weakness with her tricky backhand slice.
She broke the Spaniard twice in the final two sets, putting together a daunting 5-1 lead in the decider. Muguruza dodged two match points and recovered one of the breaks to put Barty under pressure as the Aussie bid to reach the second final of her career and her first at the Premier level.
But Barty struck back straight away, breaking Muguruza again and sealing her spot into the Birmingham final after a tight hour and fifty minutes on court.
Barty, the first Australian to reach the final since Jenny Byrne in 1992, will take on the resurgent Petra Kvitova in the title match. The Czech player moved into the final after countrywoman Lucie Safarova was forced to retire due to injury.
“I don't think you can find any tennis player at all who isn't happy to see [Petra] back and genuinely pleased she's back on tour and being successful,” Barty said. “She's one of the nicest girls you'll ever meet, not just in the tennis world. So it's so nice to have her back out on the court.
“Obviously it's a big challenge for me tomorrow. She's won Wimbledon a couple of times and is amazing on grass court as well. So it's going to be a good battle for me.”