Ash Barty swats away Australian Open threat

Ash Barty swats away Australian Open threat

Ash Barty swats away Australian Open threat as pressure builds

Ash Barty has completed the perfect preparation for her Australian Open campaign, fighting past the in-form Garbine Muguruza to claim the Yarra Valley Classic in straight sets.

Muguruza had dropped just 10 games across four straight-sets victories leading into the final, but failed to go the distance with Barty, who won 7-6 (7-3) 6-4.

The Spaniard struggled to deal with the world No.1’s lethal backhand slice throughout the match and her errors proved costly in a see-sawing first set.

Muguruza landed the first genuine blow on Sunday, breaking the Australian’s serve then holding to snatch an early 3-1 advantage.

Barty broke back to even the ledger at 3-3, marking the first time Muguruza had conceded three games in a set across the tournament.

Ash Barty celebrates after winning the Yarra Valley Classic
Ash Barty celebrates after winning the Yarra Valley Classic Credit: DAVE HUNT/AAPIMAGE

The 2020 Australian Open finalist broke Barty a second time and served for the set at 5-4 – only to be immediately broken back.

Barty would make Muguruza pay for her wastefulness, delivering a commanding tiebreak performance to snare the opening set.

Two ferocious forehands set her 3-0 up in the tiebreak and Barty kicked on to hold four set points, with a decisive forehand winner at 6-3 sealing the set.

The Australian broke Muguruza’s serve in the first game of the second set – after six deuces – and looked set to cruise from there, only to be broken back.

But holding a break point at 4-4, Barty used her backhand slice to effect to throw Muguruza out of position before ripping a forehand winner to break the Spaniard for a second time.

Serving for the match at 5-4, the Australian reeled off four quick points with ruthless efficiency, rounding out the victory with a delightful lob.

Barty will play Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic in her first-round match at the Open while Muguruza has a clash with Russian Margarita Gasparyan.

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