Friday, July 19, 2019 | ePaper
Barty looks to end 46-year Aussie drought in Paris
AFP, Paris :
Ashleigh Barty aims to end Australia's 46-year wait for a Roland Garros women's singles champion on Saturday when she faces Czech teenage breakout star Marketa Vondrousova.
Margaret Court was the last Australian woman to triumph in Paris in 1973 when she won her fifth and final title in the French capital after 1962, 1964, 1969 and 1970.
That was part of a golden era for Australian women with Lesley Turner (1963 and 1965) and Evonne Goolagong (1971) also triumphing at the clay court Slam.
"It would be incredible," said 23-year-old eighth seed Barty on her chances of adding her name to that storied roll of honour.
Barty, like her 19-year-old Czech opponent, is in her maiden Slam final having laid down a marker by making the quarter-finals of a major for the first time on home ground in Australia in January.
"It's an amazing opportunity for myself and my team. Like I said, we have worked so hard to put ourselves in these positions.
"Now we get to go out there and really enjoy it. That's the only way to approach it is to go out and enjoy it, have fun, try and play with freedom. That's ultimately when I play my best tennis and that's what we are after."
Barty's place in a Slam final is remarkable given that four years ago she quit tennis to play professional cricket.
When she returned to tennis, she was ranked at 623 in the world.
By reaching the final, she is already guaranteed to move to a career high of three, the highest for an Australian since Wendy Turnbull in 1985.
If she wins the title on Saturday, Barty will be number two in the rankings, the best for an Australian woman since Goolagong Cawley in 1976.
Barty came through a bizarre three-set semi-final against American 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova, who put out defending champion Simona Halep in the last-eight.
She led 5-0 and had set points before Anisimova roared back to take the opener and build a 3-0 lead in the second.
Barty then took the next six games to level the tie before recovering from a break down in the decider to take the tie on a sixth match point.