'Something else': Ash Barty continues extraordinary comeback heroics

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·5-min read
Ash Barty, pictured here after beating Elina Svitolina in Stuttgart.
Ash Barty stormed back to beat Elina Svitolina in Stuttgart. Image: Getty

Ash Barty has pulled off yet another amazing comeback to storm into the Stuttgart final with her ninth-straight win over a top-10 opponent.

Barty celebrated her 25th birthday in style on Saturday, beating Elina Svitolina 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 to battle her way into the decider at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.

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Just as in Friday's quarter-final tussle with Karolina Pliskova, the World No.1 saw her opponent serve for the match in the third set.

But Barty once again found the resolve and skill to turn the match in her favour.

For the second time in 24 hours, the top seed had to come from a set down on the indoor clay but her superior all-court game helped her fight back to take the match in two hours and five minutes.

It set up a final clash against Aryna Sabalenka, the World No.7 who later looked dangerous as she overpowered second seed Simona Halep 6-3 6-2 in just 66 minutes.

Though there were no fans in the indoor arena, the tournament organisers did their best to mark the Australian's landmark day by piping a choral "Happy Birthday" over the loud speakers and presenting her with a bouquet of flowers.

Yet there was no chance for Barty to get a deserved rest before Sunday's final against Sabalenka as she made it a double celebration by later reaching the doubles final with her US partner Jennifer Brady.

"No, I love to play tennis, love to compete and to do it on my birthday is even more special," beamed Barty, when asked if we should feel sorry for her having such a busy birthday which saw her end up playing for three-and-a-quarter hours all told.

Ash Barty produces another extraordinary comeback

Asked on court if she liked the thrill of her own brinkmanship, Barty could only laugh: "I promise you I'm trying as hard as I can not to get into that position!

"But Elina played an exceptional first set and a great match. She's one of the best competitors on the tour so I knew it was going to be an extremely hard-fought match and very small margins would decide it."

Just as against Pliskova, Barty produced her best just when she needed to rack up her ninth-straight win over a top-10 opponent.

Ash Barty, pictured here with a bouquet of flowers for her 25th birthday.
Ash Barty was presented with a bouquet of flowers for her 25th birthday. (Photo by Marijan Murat/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The Ukrainian began with a dazzling set of serving to put Barty under immediate pressure and, after clawing back in the second to put herself in a position to serve for the match, she was met with a great counter-attacking game from the top seed.

Again, though, the match seemed to be slipping away from Barty when she went a perilous 4-2 down in the tiebreak only for her to showcase her superior volleying as she went on the attack again to take the 55-minute set.

From there, Barty always looked in control against the World No.5, who had previously won five of their seven meetings.

"It's important to believe," said Barty, who's put herself in line to win only her second clay court tournament after her French Open win in 2019.

"This is what I love to do and I'm grateful to have the opportunity to come out here and fight and, regardless of the score, I try to play in the right way."

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Barty gave herself just an hour's rest before going out again to join Australian Open finalist Brady and defeat China's Wang Yafan and Germany's Vivian Heisen 6-1 7-5.

They'll meet the US pair of Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Desirae Krawczyk in Sunday's final which will follow the singles showdown.

with AAP

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