Sport Tennis Barty’s Adelaide win a perfect preparation for Australian Open
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Barty’s Adelaide win a perfect preparation for Australian Open

Ash Barty with the Adelaide International trophy. Photo: AAP
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Australia’s Ashleigh Barty is ready to tackle the Australian Open after winning her first WTA title on home soil with a straight-sets victory in the Adelaide International final.

The world No.1 has downed world No.24 Ukranian Dayana Yastremska 6-2 7-5 in Saturday’s final at Memorial Drive.

The mens’ title was won by Russia’s Andrey Rublev, who beat South African qualifier Lloyd Harris 6-3 6-0.

The world No.18’s triumph followed his win in last week’s ATP tournament in Doha.

Barty had lost her two previous WTA finals in Australia – at the Sydney International last year and 2018.

But she produced a powerhouse performance to claim the inaugural Adelaide tournament, and eighth WTA title in her career.

“This is incredible … a great start to the year,” Barty said.

“I definitely feel the love out here, I love playing in Australia, I love playing at home, it’s been incredible for my team to enjoy this week.

It was nice to get the balling rolling this week … and I can’t wait to get started in Melbourne on Monday.”

The Queenslander went full throttle in her last tune-up for the Australian Open in Melbourne, rapidly establishing control against the 19-year-old Yastremska.

Barty conceded just two points on serve during a ruthless 30-minute opening set, while breaking her opponent’s serve in the third and seventh games.

Yastremska was overwhelmed by the Barty assault, making 14 unforced errors and serving three double-faults in the opening set.

The Ukrainian called a bathroom break at the end of the set, most likely in a bid to stall the momentum of Barty, who nonchalantly waited on her haunches against court fencing.

But the respite had scant instant impact.

Barty had four break points in Yastremska’s first game of the second set, and cashed in the last for a break and held serve for a 2-0 lead.

But Yastremska, when seemingly down for the count, rallied to win the next three games.

The visitor, leading 4-3, had two break points to extend her lead only for Barty to save both and square at 4-4.

Barty soon made the decisive move, breaking Yastremska to love to take a 6-5 advantage and then duly served out for the title.

Earlier, reigning Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka laughed off suggestions she’s been “monitoring” Barty’s form.

Osaka also played down talk of fierce rivalries as she sets about adding a third grand slam crown to her collection.

“It’s super weird. People keep asking me questions like we’re rivals or something,” the Japanese superstar said when asked if she’d been keeping close tabs on Barty’s progress.

Naomi Osaka after winning last year’s Australian Open. Photo: ETA

“She’s in the finals of Adelaide right now, right? Yeah, I think obviously she’s a great player. She’s the No.1 ranked player in the world.

“We’ve played really close matches. What was the question? Sorry. I’ve been just stuck on this ‘monitoring’ thing, like do I have screens of her matches or something.”

Seeded third in the loaded top half of the draw, Osaka could face seven-times champion Serena Williams in the quarter-finals and Barty in the semis.

The 22-year-old said she was feeling just as confident heading into the Open as she did 12 months ago, but also much more aware of the dangers ahead.

“Last year I feel like I was young. I was just this young kid that was going out like my goal was to win, and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me,” Osaka said.

“I feel like now I appreciate more every single win because I know what it took to get it.

“Of course I want to win every match and I want to go out there and do that. That’s what I’m here for.

“I think maybe last year I was a little bit more fearless.”

Osaka will open her title defence on Monday against Czech world No.57 Maria Bouzkova.

-with AAP

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