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By Alberto Amalfi | Photo credit: @the_LTA | Saturday, June 22, 2019


Ashleigh Barty stands one step from the summit.

Barty swept Barbora Strycova, 6-4, 6-4, streaking into the Birmingham final with her 11th straight victory and moving to within one win of the world No. 1 ranking.

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It's the second Birmingham final in the last three years for Barty, who bowed to Petra Kvitova in the 2017 title match.




The second-ranked Barty can surpass Naomi Osaka to seize the top spot by taking the title tomorrow. Barty raised her record to 35-5 on the season.

Showing all-court acumen, Barty will play for her sixth title when she takes on her doubles partner Julia Goerges.

The eighth-seeded Goerges powered past Petra Martic, 6-4, 6-3, into her first Birmingham final. Martic saved five match points to surprise 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko yesterday and reach her first grass-court semifinal.

Reigning Roland Garros champion Barty is bidding to become the first Australian woman to seize the No. 1 ranking since Hall of Famer Evonne Goolagong in 1976.




If Barty falls in the final, Osaka will retain the top spot—and earn the top seed for next month's Wimbledon—by two points, which would be the smallest margin between the world's top two in WTA history.

The Miami champion showed no signs of stress in today's semifinal.

The semifinalists both stand 5'5" and both can sting the serve though Strycova suffered a sloppy stretch double faulting on break point to gift Barty the break and a 3-2 lead.

Barty, who also reached the Nature Valley Classic doubles semifinals partnering Goerges, showed superb net skills sliding a drop volley slathered with side spin that touched the chalk to hold for 4-2.

The 23-year-old Aussie streaked through the first set spiking a smash to seal a love hold and take the opener.




The second seed saved two break points in the second game of the second set, which stayed on serve until game nine.

Barty broke for 5-4 when Strycova shoveled a shot wide.

Barty is bidding to join Sabine Lisicki (2011) and Ana Ivanovic (2014) as the third woman in the last decade to win Birmingham without surrendering a set.


 

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