Karolina Pliskova gave Ash Barty a fright in their Wimbledon final on Saturday afternoon, and Mats Wilander believes she deserves credit for her efforts.
The match started with Barty winning 14 consecutive points and the first four games, and it had appeared that the Australian world number one would cruise towards the second Grand Slam win of her career, building on her 2019 French Open win.
Barty then took a year out from tennis after the coronavirus pandemic hit the world and the Australian government put in some of the most restrictive legislation and regulations associated with the Covid-19 outbreak.
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The 25-year-old competitor returned to the sport with her number one ranking intact after adjustments made by tennis’ governing body, and has enjoyed her first Grand Slam win since her time away.
Wilander suggested that the break may have done her some good, but it did not stop her suffering a mid-match wobble against her Czech opponent, which might have put the pressure on a player who had been away from the toughest opponents for an extended period in 2020.
Barty won the first set 6-3, but then lost her way in the second set and couldn’t force through a quick win as Pliskova was able to go level with a tie-break win, 7-6.
However, Barty was able to reassert herself and rediscover her confidence in the third set and was able to put another 6-3 set together to win 6-3 6-7 6-3 at SW19, falling to her knees with joy before an emotional speech after receiving her trophy.
Wilander was quick to praise Pliskova for making it a spectacle.

shleigh Barty of Australia celebrates with the Venus Rosewater Dish trophy after winning her Ladies' Singles Final match against Karolina Pliskova of The Czech Republic

Image credit: Getty Images

“Karolina Pliskova made this match happen in many ways,” he explained.
“Because she was completely out of it. And Ash Barty was so good early on it looked like it was going to be a one way ticket to nowhere really.”
While Barty started promisingly, Wilander pointed out that it was the Australian who had stumbled a little in the face of Pliskova, but it was just as much a case of the losing finalist being able to raise her game considerably.
“Ash Barty somehow let that match slip out of her hands and we got one of the great finals,” he commented.
“She was very clear on what she was going to do. She lost momentum in the first set, and she gained it back in the second set and was up that break,” he said.
And somehow Karolina Pliskova getting more comfortable with the style of play Ash Barty chose, and it was such a switch of momentum.
“Once in the first set, and once in the second set at 3-1, I think in the second set, KP should have so much credit because she hung in there. She could have bailed out in the second set and she did not. She played a brilliant tie breaker.
“5-5, Ash Barty breaks ,she’s going to serve it out because she's the better player . She’s come back from not winning the first set as easily as she [could have]. But Pliskova played a really good game, and more credit to Pliskova than Ash Barty faltering at this point.
“You can't give Karolina Pliskova more credit than she deserves. She made this final very exciting.”
Watch the men's and women's finals live on Eurosport 2. All coverage is also available to stream via eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app.
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