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By Richard Pagliaro | Thursday, May 6, 2021

Ash Barty

Ash Barty ended Spanish wild card Paula Badosa's inspired run with a 6-4, 6-3 sweep scoring her 16th straight red clay victory to reach her first Madrid final.

Photo credit: Alberto Nevado/Mutua Madrid Open

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Barty swept Spanish wild card Paula Badosa 6-4, 6-3 streaking into her first Mutua Madrid Open final and stretching her red-clay winning streak to 16 matches.

The top seed raised her record to a WTA-best 25-3, including a sparkling 17-1 record since she departed Australia. The one loss was to Badosa on the Har-Tru of Charleston, commonly called American green clay, 6-4, 6-3 last month.

Clearly, coach Craig Tyzzer reviewed video of that match—Barty says she rarely watches video of her own matches—and formulated a blue-print to reverse the result on Madrid's red clay before the Barcelona-based Badosa's Spanish fans.

Spin master Barty deployed her unsettling mix of low slice and sharp forehand strikes, hit behind the 5'11" Spaniard on some pivotal points, served with stinging accuracy when she needed it most and benefitted from Badosa twice double-faulting away breaks, including a double to end the opening set.

"There was a small adjustment. I think just the learnings from some of her patterns, tendencies that came through and shown through in that match in Charleston," Barty said. "I think I was just able to control the court a little bit better. I was able to look after my service games a little bit better, build pressure on return games.

"That's a massive part of it: not always winning points, but building pressure. Scoreboard pressure can be a big thing. That was a focus for me today. Glad to be able to respond quickly once I got broken and keep the monument in my favor."

The 5'5" Aussie is the WTA ace leader with 181 aces. Barty closed a 75 minute victory in style slashing her sixth ace.

"I think the conditions here in Madrid reward good serving," Barty said. "I think particularly when it's warm, like it has been the last couple days, it's lively, the balls are quite hard. Yeah, you know what I mean. But I think it rewards getting up and hitting your spots, getting after your serve.

"I think traditionally you see a bit of a mix of people that have won here in the past, a mix of game styles. All have done a really good job looking after their service games, whether that's free points or in the rallies. I think that's a massive part of it."

The Barty Party rolls on as she avenged her lone loss of the season to charge into her fourth final in six events this season. Barty, who has won six of 18 tournaments she's played as top seed, will try to sustain her streak in Saturday's final.

Barty will face either Aryna Sabalenka, whom she beat in last month's Stuttgart final for her 11th career title, or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for the Madrid title.

Badosa kissed the clay yesterday commemorating her historic run as the first Spanish woman to reach the Madrid semifinals in the 19-year history of the tournament and did her best to embrace the challenge of her biggest match today.

Despite this defeat, Badosa should draw confidence from one of her best career performances and the fact she's risen to No. 42 in the live rankings.

Spanish fans roared as Badosa saved a break point and held strong to even the opening set after eight games.

The top seed earned two set points on Badosa's serve in the 10th game, but the Spanish wild card denied both drilling a diagonal forehand to save the second.

Measuring a short ball, Barty spun a forehand winner for a third set point. After all the good work of the opening set, Badosa double faulted into net ending the 41-minute opener.

The 2019 Roland Garros champion served just 44 percent in the opening set, but was nearly untouchable when she landed her first delivery winning 11 of 12 first-serve points without facing a break point in the opening set.

Resetting, Badosa came right back targeting the two-time Miami Open champion's backhand wing. Badosa drew a few errors from that wing, included a netted slice breaking for the first time to start the second set.

Badosa couldn't sustain the break sailing a shot beyond the baseline to give back the break at love.

A brilliant Barty short-angled forehand gave her break point. Badosa took some time before a second serve—perhaps too much time to think about the magnitude of the moment—and sent a second serve into the middle of the net.  Badosa double-faulted away a break for a second time as Barty stretched the lead to 3-1.

Tennis Express

One hour into the match, Badosa ratcheted up pressure on Barty earning three break points.

The Aussie erased all three break points then turned a precarious game to her favor in a two-point sequence showing her superb racquet skills. Barty banged a diagonal forehand for game point, displaced her opponent with the kick second serve and slid a slick backhand drop shot winner quieting the crowd and the threat for 4-1.

Barty slammed down an ace to end it and now sets her sights on her third career clay-court crown. 


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