Sport Tennis French Open: Barty draws on doubles experience in quest for title

French Open: Barty draws on doubles experience in quest for title

Ash Barty celebrates her semi-final win at the French Open. Photo: AAP
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Ashleigh Barty is within touching distance of her first grand slam title.

When she takes on unseeded Czech 19-year-old, Marketa Vondrousova on Saturday at 11pm (AEST), Barty will have a golden opportunity to claim her maiden major singles title and Australia’s first since Sam Stosur claimed the 2011 US Open title.

Adding to the level of Barty’s feat is the fact that no Australian woman has won the French Open since Margaret Court in 1973.

Both contenders are in the form of their lives, with neither having previously made a grand slam semi-final, let alone a final prior, to this magical run.

However Barty does have plenty of finals experience on the biggest stage, having featured in five grand slam doubles finals.

Four of those finals – one at each slam – were alongside Casey Dellacqua, and in order to end Australian tennis’s long break between drinks in Paris, Barty will draw on that partnership to help her focus ahead of taking on left-handed Vondrousova.

Barty and Dellacqua were runners-up on each occasion they reached a grand slam final, with Barty eventually breaking her duck with American CoCo Vanderweghe at last year’s US Open.

Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua celebrate a doubles win in Melbourne. Photo: AAP 

However, the Queenslander believes that the experience of playing alongside the West Australian left-hander can only help her.

“I think the beauty of having Casey as my doubles partner for a few years, I saw that many left-handed serves and left-handed balls coming at me,” Barty said.

Obviously it’s a different player, different opponent and Marketa has a different shape than Casey did, but for me it’s no real difference.

“Tactically you change and adjust a few minor things, but it’s about trying to bring it back to how I want to play and not falling into her patterns too much.”

Teenage star hoping to continue exceptional run

Like Barty, Vondrousova is in a fine run of form and looking to become the ninth teenager to win the women’s final at Roland Garros.

Vondrousova beat Britain’s Johanna Konta to book her place in the decider and this year reached the quarter-finals in Rome, Miami and Indian Wells in addition to the final at Istanbul.

No grand slam has produced more teen women’s winners than the French Open.

Should Vondrousova beat Barty, she’ll put her name alongside the likes of Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Chris Evert, Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis and Monica Seles as under-20s who have prevailed at Roland Garros.

She is also the first player to reach the final without dropping a set since Lucie Safarova in 2015 and can emulate the achievements of Jelena Ostapenko by winning the final as an unseeded player two years ago.

The Australian has won the two previous encounters between the pair – a 2017 straight-sets win on Birmingham’s grass and the following year, a victory on Cincinnati’s hard courts, also in straight sets.

However, neither has been on clay and Vondrousova is relishing the chance to get her first success over Barty.

“We never play on clay, so it’s going to be something new,” Vondrousova said.

“She’s top 10 now and she’s playing amazing tennis.

“She’s mixing it also like me, so I think it’s going to be interesting match. It’s a final, and I’m just gonna focus and try to relax.”

Barty’s parents set to miss final

Barty has had plenty of support from all corners of the globe on her meteoric rise to the French Open final, but two supporters she’ll have to do without on Saturday are her parents, who will have just landed in the UK ahead of the grass-court season.

Josie and Robert Barty booked a flight to the UK last month and were only due to arrive hours before Saturday night’s title match at Roland Garros.

The legendary Rod Laver says there’s “no question” Barty can become the first Australian singles champion at Roland Garros.

Barty was the Wimbledon junior champion in 2011 at just 15 and most, including her parents, expected the All England Club to be the most likely setting for any grand slam breakthrough for the rapidly-rising 23-year-old.

The world No.8 is now assured of a rise to a minimum of No.3 on Monday, but will climb to second if she wins the final.

Victory would net her a 2.3 million euros ($A3.72 million) winner’s cheque, while she would take home 1.180 million euros ($A1.91 million) as runner-up.