Tennis legend's warning to Ash Barty ahead of Wimbledon final

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Ash Barty and Karolina Pliskova, pictured here in action at Wimbledon.
Ash Barty and Karolina Pliskova will square off in the Wimbledon final. Image: Getty

Martina Navratilova has warned Ash Barty to be ready for a Karolina Pliskova serving barrage that could bomb the World No.1 off Centre Court in the Wimbledon final.

Pliskova has pounded down a tournament-leading 54 aces along with 140 unreturned serves, winning 57 of 61 service games.

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The tall Czech is the only player in the field of 128 with a 90 per cent success rate.

Barty is the third-highest ace server with 46, but she's been much more vulnerable - broken 11 times in 64 service games.

Czech-born Navratilova has followed Pliskova's career closely and says she's never seen the 2016 US Open finalist play so well.

And the nine-time Wimbledon champion reckons all the pressure is on overwhelming favourite Barty in the final.

"If she plays like she did against (No.2 seed) Aryna Sabalenka in the semi-final, it's going to be a hard one for Barty," Navratilova told the BBC.

"Ash has handled herself so well when she's been under pressure in the past but Pliskova puts you under pressure with her game - she can serve her off the court.

"If she plays like she has been, I think Pliskova can win.

"But Barty is the disrupter. She changes the pace, she changes the spin, she makes you move into places you don't want to be - so it'll be a great test for both players.

"But the pressure's definitely on Barty."

Ash Barty, pictured here after her victory over Angelique Kerber in the Wimbledon semi-finals.
Ash Barty celebrates after her victory over Angelique Kerber in the Wimbledon semi-finals. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)

Ash Barty ready for Pliskova serving barrage

On Friday, Barty admitted her tall Czech opponent has the easy power to "take the match away" from her in a rush in Saturday's showdown and the World No.1 is working on how to neutralise a serve that's only been broken four times this fortnight.

"She's been serving exceptionally well this week, and she's been able to control a lot of the matches from early on," said Barty of the opponent she's beaten five times out of seven matches.

Pliskova's German coach Sascha Bajin says the World No.13 has been a different woman since a first-round fright in her 7-5 6-4 win against Tamara Zidansek.

"She was 2-5 down first set and something happened. It's very hard for me to explain. I saw something change," noted Bajin on Friday.

"She got up off the chair, different look in her eyes, like a different player. Something about her changed."

But Barty recognises the danger, saying: "Pliskova has the ability to take the match away from you.

"She's got a big one-two punch off her serve and she can control her service games, putting you under the pump on your own service games.

"Being able to keep scoreboard pressure's a massive thing and she's been serving exceptionally well this week, able to control a lot of the matches from early on.

"So that's a challenge, trying to neutralise (her serve) as best as possible early on."

Ash Barty v Karolina Pliskova head-to-head

2021 Stuttgart, clay, QF, Barty 2-6 6-1 7-5

2019 WTA Tour Finals, Shenzhen, indoor hard, SF, Barty 4-6 6-2 6-3

2019 Miami, hard, F, Barty 7-6 (7-1) 6-3

2018 US Open, hard, R16, Pliskova 6-4 6-4

2017 Wuhan, hard, QF, Barty 4-6 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 (7-2)

2016 Nottingham, grass, QF, Pliskova 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 (9-7)

2012 Nottingham, grass, QF, Barty 2-6 6-3 7-6 (8-6)

with AAP

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