At Wimbledon, Pliskova seeks 1st Grand Slam title, Barty 2nd

Jul 8, 2021, 4:56 PM | Updated: Jul 9, 2021, 5:01 am

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Ash Barty will be trying to win a second trophy in her past seven Grand Slam tournaments when she faces Karolina Pliskova at Wimbledon on Saturday.

Pliskova seeks her first major championship, five years after losing in her only previous Slam final.

In matching up against No. 1 seed Barty after eliminating No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka in the semifinals, Pliskova hopes to do something only three women managed to accomplish since the Open era began 53 years ago: beat the top two seeds en route to the title at the All England Club.

Venus Williams pulled that off twice, actually — in 2000 (defeating No. 1 Martina Hingis in the quarterfinals, then No. 2 Lindsay Davenport in the final) and in 2005 (defeating No. 2 Maria Sharapova in the semifinals, then No. 1 Davenport in the final).

The only other examples go back at least a half-century: Ann Jones in 1969 and Evonne Goolagong in 1971.

Goolagong’s second Wimbledon title in 1980 was the most recent for an Australian at the All England Club. Like Goolagong, Barty has indigenous roots; they’ve known each other for more than a decade and Barty is wearing a skirt-and-shirt outfit this fortnight inspired by Goolagong’s dress from 41 years ago.

“Evonne has guided the way,” Barty said. “She’s created a path for all of us as Australians, but as a family, and for our heritage to know that there is an opportunity to chase after your dreams and to do what you love.”

Pliskova came close to the 1-2 double at the 2016 U.S. Open, too, eliminating No. 1 Serena Williams in the semifinals before getting beaten by No. 2 Angelique Kerber in three sets in the final. Kerber’s victory at Flushing Meadows pushed her up to No. 1 in the rankings.

“So far, my second final, second time I’m playing against a player (who is) No. 1,” Pliskova said Thursday after coming back to top Sabalenka 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in a match with 32 combined aces, the most for a women’s match at Wimbledon since at least 1977.

“But, no, I think it can’t be any better than that. You want to play the best player in the final,” said Pliskova, who led the WTA rankings herself for eight weeks in 2017. “Of course, I don’t want anybody else but her there.”

That’s even though Pliskova is aware that she trails her next opponent 5-2 head-to-head — including three wins in a row for Barty — and knows what awaits in terms of the tennis.

“Of course,” said Pliskova, a 29-year-old from the Czech Republic, “she makes you feel a bit ugly with the game which she’s playing.”

That game is a mix of topspin-heavy forehands, sliced backhands, strong and well-placed serves and the knowledge of which shot to play when.

“Really intelligent player,” was three-time major champion Kerber’s assessment after losing to Barty 6-3, 7-6 (3) in the semifinals.

Barty’s lone major title so far came on red clay at the 2019 French Open, and, like Pliskova, she’d never been past the fourth round at the All England Club until this week.

But the 25-year-old Barty grew up playing on grass courts and was the 2011 junior champion at Wimbledon. After turning pro, she left the tour in 2014 for nearly two years off because of burnout, before returning.

“I’m certainly in a very different phase of my life now, as to where I was 10 years ago. I think I’ve had some incredible moments over the last 10 years of my career. Had some really tough moments, as well,” she said. “I have no regrets. I wouldn’t change anything.”

___

More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

10 mountaineers killed after avalanche in northern India

NEW DELHI (AP) — At least 10 trainee mountaineers died Tuesday after being swept away by an avalanche in the Himalayas in northern India, media reports said, as rescuers searched for 11 others missing. A group of 29 people was hit by an avalanche on a mountain peak located in the Gangotri range of the […]
1 day ago
People offer prayers near the statue of a lion, the mascot of Arema FC, outside Kanjuruhan Stadium ...
Associated Press

Indonesia police: Stadium exit gates too small for escape

MALANG, Indonesia (AP) — The gates at the Indonesian soccer stadium where police fired tear gas that set off a deadly crush were too small and could only accommodate two at a time when hundreds were trying to escape, police investigators said Tuesday. Photos from the Malang stadium where 125 people died and hundreds were […]
1 day ago
FILE - Workers walk to the Lusail Stadium, one of the 2022 World Cup stadiums, in Lusail, Qatar, Fr...
Associated Press

Paris joins in TV boycott of World Cup games from Qatar

PARIS (AP) — Paris will not broadcast World Cup matches on giant screens in public fan zones amid concerns over rights violations of migrant workers and the environmental impact of the tournament in Qatar. It follows similar moves by other French cities, despite France going in as the defending champion. “There is the problem of […]
1 day ago
Kadokawa Corp. Chairman Tsuguhiko Kadokawa speaks to reporters in Tokyo on Sept. 5, 2022. Kadokawa ...
Associated Press

Publishing executive charged in Tokyo Olympic bribes scandal

TOKYO (AP) — A top executive at a major Japanese publisher was charged Tuesday with bribing a former Tokyo Olympics organizing committee member. The charges against Tsuguhiko Kadokawa, a major figure in Japan’s movie and entertainment industry, are the latest in the unfolding corruption scandal related to last year’s Tokyo Summer Games. Kadokawa was arrested […]
1 day ago
Serbia's coach Marina Malkovic, right, talks with a referee during their game against Mali at the w...
Associated Press

Women to get more rest between hoop games at next World Cup

SYDNEY (AP) — Players at this year’s World Cup had a few concerns about the competition, including the compact schedule and the timing of the tournament, and the women took their complaints right to the top. FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis talked with many of the players during the course of the recently competed tournament. […]
1 day ago
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate (84) misses a catch during the first half of an NFL fo...
Associated Press

Analysis: NFL isn’t passing the eye test on head injuries

What happened in Tampa was the last thing the NFL, its players and its fanbase needed three days after Tua Tagovailoa’s horrifying head injury called into question the league’s commitment to curbing concussions. Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate sat out the second half of Sunday night’s 41-31 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs with a […]
1 day ago
At Wimbledon, Pliskova seeks 1st Grand Slam title, Barty 2nd