Ashleigh Barty has lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the semi-finals of the Cincinnati Masters, missing the chance to reclaim to regain the No.1 ranking.
Ash Barty is the first Australian to reach a grand slam final since Sam Stosur in 2011. Her semi-final match against unseeded 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova was a real rollercoaster from start to finish.
Barty raced out to a 5-0 lead in the first set, before Anisimova came back to win it 7-6. Early in the second set it looked like it was all over for Ash, as Anisimova broke her serve and led 3-0. Barty showed real fight to win the next 6 consecutive games, taking the second set 6-3. She then held her nerve to convert her 6th match point in the 3rd set, winning 6-3.
Barty has reached the final against all odds. Her last clay court title was on the junior circuit way back in 2011. Not only that, but her last clay court final was a 2012 loss on the ITF circuit, which is a tier below the WTA tour. Barty’s critics may suggest she had a soft draw in Paris, but her run to the final nonetheless includes a 2018 semifinalist in Madison Keys.
Furthermore, Amanda Anisimova was no slouch, having dispatched defending champion Simona Halep in straight sets.
Although Barty is yet to win a grand slam, her Miami Open title from March is the next best thing. She defeated seventh-seed Kiki Bertens, third-seed Petra Kvitova and fifth-seed Karolina Pliskova en route to the title. This tournament showed that Barty belongs among the best players in the world.
A win in the French Open final will take her world ranking to no.2, a feat last achieved by Evonne Goolagong.
Victory won’t come easily however, as her opponent Marketa Vondrousova is yet to drop a set in the tournament. Regardless of what happens though, it’s an extraordinary achievement for Barty to come this far without a strong history on clay.