Ash Barty has rounded out a perfect week of Australian Open preparation with a commanding straight-sets win over last year’s Melbourne Park finalist Garbine Muguruza.
Barty could hardly be better placed for another deep run at her home grand slam after downing the Spaniard 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 in the final of the Yarra Valley Classic to claim her ninth WTA title in the Australian’s first tournament in almost a year.
“It was probably some of the better tennis that I’ve played throughout the whole week and Garbine certainly forced me to play at that level,” Barty said.
So it was a great final but (I’m) happy with the progression of the level of tennis through the week.”
Muguruza had dropped just 10 games across four straight-sets victories leading into the final, but failed to go the distance with the world No.1.
The Spaniard struggled to deal with Barty’s lethal backhand slice throughout the match and her errors proved costly.
Muguruza failed to capitalise on her early opportunities, including when serving for the first set at 5-4.
Barty would make Muguruza pay, delivering a commanding tiebreak performance to snare the opening set.
She secured the decisive break in the ninth game of the second set and closed the match out in the following game, rounding out the victory with a delightful lob.
Barty kicked off her summer by beating Ana Bogdan in straight sets, then toughed out a three-set win over Marie Bouzkova and a third-set tiebreak victory against Shelby Rogers – before a semi-final walkover courtesy of Serena Williams’ withdrawal.
“It’s a different challenge every day,” said the Australian, who opted out of the US and French Opens in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns.
“Obviously the conditions with the roof closed changes things as well – so it’s been a brilliant week in a sense.
“We’ve been tested against different opponents, different conditions, different times of the day.
“So everything … has been thrown at me this week and there have been challenges to overcome (and) we’ve been able to do that.”
Barty has a favourable Open draw, but refused to look beyond her first-round clash with Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic on Tuesday.
“When the draw predictions are done, I don’t think one’s ever come true in the entirety of tennis,” she said.
“So we’ll just see how the draw pans out but my focus is on my first round come Tuesday.”
Meanwhile Elise Mertens thrashed Kaia Kenepi 6-4 6-1 in the final of the Gippsland Trophy lead-up tournament.
Both semi-finals of the Grampians Trophy went to match tiebreaks.
Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit beat Greece’s Maria Sakkari 6-2 6-3 11-9 while American Ann Li outlasted countrywoman Jennifer Brady 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (5-7) 10-6.
There is no final for the Grampians Trophy – a tournament set up for players who endured a hard hotel quarantine – due to its delayed start.