Competing for the first time since February last year, world no. 1 Ashleigh Barty won the ninth WTA trophy at the Yarra Valley Classic in Melbourne. Ashleigh prevailed over Garbine Muguruza 7-6, 6-4 in an hour and 47 minutes and gathered a boost ahead of the Australian Open.
It was their fourth meeting and the third win for the Aussie, who seized four out of 11 break chances and sealed the deal in straight sets. Garbine converted all three break points, but it wasn't enough to keep her safe or bring at least one set.
The Spaniard grabbed a break at 1-1 when the Aussie sprayed a backhand error and repelled two break points in the next game to forge a 3-1 advantage. Barty forced an error in game six to pull the break back before Garbine secured another break at 4-4 with a backhand winner, serving for the set but spraying a backhand error to get broken and allow Ashleigh to prolong the set.
Ashleigh Barty spoke about the title she won on Sunday and the Australian Open.
The Aussie claimed a tie break 7-3 with a forehand winner at the net, hoping for more in set number two. The second set's first game offered six deuces, with Barty converting the third break chance to open a set and a break lead.
Garbine broke back in game six, giving everything to stay in touch and force a decider. Ashleigh grabbed a decisive break at 4-4 with a forehand down the line winner and held at love a few minutes later with a perfect lob winner to cross the finish line and secure the trophy in front of the home fans.
"The trophy is very cool; it's almost a tribute to my heritage and indigenous art. I played well today; Garbine forced me to. It was a great final. I think Garbine is an exceptional frontrunner. When she did get a couple of early breaks in the first set, I needed not to let her run away with it and respond instantly.
The focus is on every single individual point, trying to return as best that I can for that point. That's all you can do is one point at a time. That's the only way you can work through a match. It was vital for me today to do that well.
There's no extra pressure ahead of the Australian Open. It's the same, whether it's a Major or any other level. I think the additional stress and the extra chatter comes from you guys. That's not my concern. It doesn't change the way that I prepare or play.
For me, regardless of what tournament it is, what match it is and what court, the routine and the preparation are all the same. That's how I know that I bring out my best stuff, Ashleigh Barty said.