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Conditions were brutal yet I fought my way to the final, declares Barty

 

Focused: Ashleigh Barty powers to victory over Amanda Anisimova yesterday to book a place in today’s decider
Focused: Ashleigh Barty powers to victory over Amanda Anisimova yesterday to book a place in today’s decider

By Eleanor Crooks

Ashleigh Barty will face Marketa Vondrousova in one of the more unlikely grand slam finals at the French Open.

Neither player had ever reached a grand slam semi-final prior to this tournament but they have taken their opportunity superbly and will do battle today for the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen.

Barty took to the court bearing Lenglen's name for her semi-final against 17-year-old American Amanda Anisimova, which was as wild as the windy weather.

Anisimova, who had knocked out defending champion Simona Halep in the quarter-finals, won just three points in the first five games but then reeled off the next six before taking the set on a tie-break.

The teenager looked poised to become the youngest grand slam finalist since Maria Sharapova when she led 3-0 in the second but this time Barty won six games in a row before coming through the decider to win 6-7 (4) 6-3 6-3.

The 23-year-old Australian said: "I played some really good tennis. I played some pretty awful tennis. The occasion, the conditions, it was pretty brutal out there. I'm just proud of myself the way I was able to fight and scrap and hang in there and find a way when I kind of threw away that first set. It's an amazing opportunity."

Barty took a break from tennis as a teenager after finding the pressure too much and spent a spell playing professional cricket before returning in 2016, and this is the most remarkable chapter yet in her comeback. She is guaranteed to climb into the world's top three on Monday and would go to number two with the title.

"It's been an incredible journey the last three years," she said.

"It's been an incredible journey the last two weeks.

"I feel like I have played some really good tennis, some consistent tennis. Although that level wasn't there today for the whole match necessarily, it was there when I needed it. I'm just so proud of myself the way we were able to go out there and handle it today. All things considered, we're in a pretty amazing place now."

Anisimova, who will make her Wimbledon debut next month, will surely have other chances to reach a grand slam final such is the talent she possesses.

The teenager said: "I started off pretty rough. I was kind of frozen and I couldn't really get into my game. And then when I was down 5-0, I just tried to keep the ball in the court.

"And then it was just really tough from when I finished the first set. She was playing really well. And it was just really tough to win that match.

"I'm obviously upset I lost, because I'm always upset if I lose. But at the end of the day, I did make it to the semi-finals for the first time."

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