Ashleigh Barty crowned her comeback to tennis with a first grand slam singles title by beating Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova at the French Open.
The 23-year-old Australian took a break from the game in 2014 after finding the pressure too much and spent time playing professional cricket before returning three years ago ranked outside the top 600. She has been on an upward trajectory ever since and was totally in control of this meeting of two first-time grand slam singles finalists, winning 6-1, 6-3 in just an hour and 10 minutes.
Barty, who will be ranked second in the world on Monday, is the first Australian woman to win a grand slam singles title since Sam Stosur at the US Open in 2011 and the first in Paris since Margaret Court in 1973.
“It’s unbelievable … I played the perfect match today,” said Barty. “I am so proud of myself and my whole team. It has been a crazy two weeks. This is a special place for Australian players.”
This was a crushing end to a superb fortnight for Vondrousova, who had hoped to emulate Jelena Ostapenko’s achievement of two years ago by winning the title as an unseeded player, but she will be ranked 16th on Monday and will surely have more major title chances.
While this was not the final many would have predicted, it was a meeting between two of the most in-form players of 2019. Barty has soared into the top 10 while Vondrousova, who began the year ranked 67, has won more matches since the Australian Open than any other woman.
Hanging around for an hour and a half while the delayed men’s semi-final between Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem was completed would hardly have helped either of their nerves.
• Kevin Mitchell’s report from Roland Garros to follow …