Ashleigh Barty: Roland-Garros champion

No.8 seed Barty beats unseeded Czech Vondrousova to win women's title at RG.

Ashleigh Barty©Nicolas Gouhier / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Ashleigh Barty has completed her three-year transformation in “perfect” style, lifting her first Grand Slam singles trophy with a 6-1, 6-3 triumph over teenage sensation Marketa Vondrousova on Court Philippe-Chatrier. 

“It’s unbelievable, I’m a little bit speechless. It’s incredible, I played the perfect match today and I’m so proud of myself and my team. It’s just been a crazy two weeks,” Barty said on court before hugging the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen.

The eighth seed took a two-year hiatus from the sport, but returned to the tour in 2016 during the grass-court swing ranked down at world No.623.

Fast forward to 2019 and Barty’s versatility and creativity has propelled the 23-year-old to become the first Australian Roland-Garros singles champion since 1973.

“Thanks to my team for sticking with me. It’s been the most amazing journey for us over the past three years and I feel like this is just the start for us. Let’s go celebrate tonight!" 

Vondrousova had navigated past the likes of Anastasija Sevastova, Petra Martic and Johanna Konta en route to a maiden major final. 

However, the Czech world No.38 made a nervy start against Konta in the semi-finals when she lost the opening 10 points and she started in a similar vein on Saturday.

Barty was arrowing her forehand into the corners with consummate ease, surrendering just three points and launching to a 3-0 advantage.

The 19-year-old Czech posted her first game on the scoreboard after 20 minutes but Barty’s backhand slice, which had been a complete menace all fortnight, was teasing errors from Vondrousova’s armoury.

A deft chipped drop shot was the catalyst for Barty to break for 5-1 and she then clattered an inside-in forehand winner to march to the changeover halfway down the road to holding the trophy aloft. 

Barty had won 24 of 25 matches after winning the first set this year and her all-court prowess helped her continue to dictate proceedings.

Barty's graceful backhand volleys pinned the Czech prodigy behind the baseline and earned her an instant break lead, while efficient service games pushed the eighth seed 4-2 ahead with exactly an hour on the clock.

Vondrousova fought valiantly but Barty kept ramping up the pressure, retrieving a smash with a stunning hooked forehand cross court to maintain her grip on the contest.

During her five previous visits to Roland-Garros, Barty had never progressed beyond the second round, but completed her captivating fortnight with a booming overhead, before then meeting her gracious opponent at the net for a hug.

Ashleigh Barty and Marketa Vondrousova© Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Crouching in the middle of the terre battue, Barty couldn’t quite believe her accomplishment at the trophy ceremony.

“It’s a special place for Australians. Obviously Sam (Stosur) has done so well here in the past, she’s come so close before (2010 final),” mentioned Barty, moments before receiving her first Grand Slam singles trophy from seven-time Roland-Garros winner Chris Evert.

“So I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve been able to achieve. It’s been a magical two weeks.”

Vondrousova’s breakthrough Grand Slam ensures she rises to a career-high position at No.16 and the Czech teenager was quick to hail the new champion.

“Congrats Ash and your team, you gave me a lesson today, so thank you,” joked the 19-year-old. “You’re an amazing player and such a nice person, so you deserve this."

Barty, rocketing up to world No.2 on Monday, was also keen to pay tribute to her opponent.

“Marketa has had an amazing season, not just these two weeks," Barty said. "She’s only just starting her climb, I have absolutely no doubt she’s going to be in many more Grand Slam finals I’m sure.”