'Incredible': Tennis world erupts over Ash Barty's 41-year Wimbledon first

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Seen here, Ash Barty thanks the crowd after her Wimbledon semi-final win.
Ash Barty is the first Aussie woman into a Wimbledon singles final in 41 years. Pic: Getty

Ash Barty has clinched a stunning 41-year first at Wimbledon after downing former champion Angelique Kerber in a commanding semi-final display at the All England Club.

The World No.1 became the first Aussie woman since Evonne Goolagong Cawley - who won the title in 1971 and 1980 - to make the Wimbledon final after a scintillating 6-3 7-6 (7-3) win over the German three-time major winner.

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Living up to her World No.1 billing, the Queenslander described the performance as one of the best of her life against a player that she admitted before the match would provide the "ultimate test".

In truth, that ultimate test is yet to come on Saturday when Barty will tackle Karolina Pliskova, the tall, big-serving Czech who blitzed 14 aces as she tamed Aryna Sabalenka 5-7 6-4 6-4 in the other power-packed semi-final.

Barty was full of emotion after the match as she emulated her idol and mentor Goolagong to end Australia's long wait for a women's finalist at the All England Club.

"Being able to play on the final Saturday here at Wimbledon is gonna be just the best experience ever!" Barty said afterwards.

Barty's win against Kerber can't be far behind as she became Australia's first singles finalist - man or woman - at the All England Club since Mark Philippoussis lost to Roger Federer in 2003.

And if she produces this quality in the final, having crashed down eight aces and 38 winners, including 18 whipped from her glorious forehand, the 25-year-old is in good shape to become the nation's third champion in the Open era after Margaret Court and Goolagong.

It was the highest quality women's match in the tournament, with Barty declaring to Centre Court: "This is incredible. This is as good as a tennis match as I'll ever play.

"I'm incredibly proud of myself and my team and now we get a chance on Saturday to live out a childhood dream."

Tennis fans were left gushing on social media, with praise flying in thick and fast for the popular champion.

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Barty played her sharpest set of the fortnight in the opening stanza before withstanding the sort of inspirational form from Kerber that took the German to the 2018 title.

Kerber's 33 now and has been on a downward spiral this past year with her ranking having plummeted to No.28.

But she won a pre-Wimbledon tournament in Bad Homburg and has been completely re-energised back at her happy Wimbledon hunting ground.

Barty raises level to reach decider

So Barty really did have to produce some supreme tennis to fight back from 5-2 down in the second set and prevail after playing an immaculate tiebreak to move into her second grand slam final after one hour 27 minutes.

The only time she'd looked nervous was at the very start, opening up with a double fault, but once she'd saved a couple of break points, she was quickly into a rhythmic stride.

Having dictated in the opening set, Barty suddenly found herself on the retreat at the start of the second as Kerber reprised some of the glorious tennis that had blown Serena Williams away in the final three years ago as she broke to race to a 3-0 lead.

Pictured here, Ash Barty celebrates after her Wimbledon semi-final victory over Angelique Kerber.
Ash Barty celebrates after her semi-final victory over Angelique Kerber at Wimbledon. Pic: Getty

"Angie is an incredible competitor. She brought out the best in me," reckoned Barty, who produced three exceptional games when 5-2 down.

"Being able to challenge myself against a champion like her, it was just nice to play a really good level throughout the whole match.

"I fought and scrapped when I had to, controlled the ball when I had to. That match was a great level, the best level I've played in quite some time."

Serving for the set, Kerber faltered, with Barty cashing in to earn a break to love with a scintillating cross-court forehand.

Then she took control, winning 10 straight points as she powered into a 6-0 lead in the tiebreak, with the help of two more killer forehands and an ace.

Kerber could only delay the inevitable, courageously saving three match points before finally netting a backhand as Barty celebrated becoming only the fourth Aussie women's finalist in the Open era after Court, Judy Tegart and Goolagong.

with AAP

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