World No.1 Ash Barty has started the summer of tennis in perfect fashion after claiming the Yarra Valley Classic against the in-form Garbine Muguruza.
Barty entered the final in unusual circumstances after Serena Williams withdrew from her semi clash with the Aussie.
While Muguruza entered the final in imperious form having crushed Czech Marketa Vondrousova 6-1, 6-0.
And the first set lived-up to expectations as Barty and Muguruza broke each other twice before the Aussie was able to capitalise and take the first set in a tie-break.
The World No.1 then carried her momentum into the second set and broke Muguruza straight away.
She was able to grind out the second set and claim the Yarra Valley Classic WTA 500 to mark the first title of the year.
— WTA Español (@WTA_Espanol) February 7, 2021
The Classic serves as a perfect warm-up ahead of the Australian Open starting on Monday.
Fans were quick to praise Barty’s form, despite playing her first tournament in a year.
— Rival de Marte (@RivaldeMarte) February 7, 2021
— Rodrigo Canale (@canale_rodrigo) February 7, 2021
Ash Barty just whipped an angled driven backhand winner at 30-30 on Muguruza's serve. It would appear that she is playing well.
— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) February 7, 2021
— Pam Shriver (@PHShriver) February 7, 2021
Ash Barty is such a beautiful tennis player. It’s watching an artist play at their highest level.
— YURP ORGANISM (@MCSlips) February 7, 2021
Ash Barty is in really great form.
She received a lot of criticism for staying home and not playing last year and ending the year as number 1, but you can tell she used the year to work. She looks strong physically and mentally.
I kinda hope she wins AO this year.
— Lauren Vail (@Laurenevail) February 7, 2021
Osaka withdraws from semi-final
Earlier on Saturday, Australian Open favourite Naomi Osaka withdrew from her Gippsland Trophy semi-final against Elise Mertens, citing the need to manage a niggling shoulder injury ahead of her Open campaign.
As a result, Mertens has a walkover to the final of the Gippsland Trophy, where she will face Kaia Kanepi, who beat Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3 7-6 (8-6) in the other semi-final.
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