Ash Barty vs Karolina Pliskova, 2pm, Centre Court, BBC One
The top of women’s tennis has often seemed like the wild west in recent months — but Ash Barty can change that today.
Barty, the world No1 and top seed, faces Karolina Pliskova in the Wimbledon final this afternoon looking to live up to her pre-tournament billing as the favourite for glory.
Beating Pliskova, seeded No8, will be no easy task for the 2019 French Open champion, yet reaching the final is a triumph of sorts in itself for Barty.
Added on to the fact she pulled out of last month’s French Open with a hip injury in the second round, two of the previous four women’s Grand Slam winners have been unseeded.
There will be no grand upset today however, with two of the best in the world meeting on Centre Court looking to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish for the first time.
How they got here
Progress has been serene for Barty, 25, whose only dropped set came in the first round against Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro.
Prior to beating 2018 champion Angelique Kerber in the semi-final, Barty had cruised past Anna Blinkova, Katerina Siniakova, Barbora Krejcikova and fellow Australian Ajla Tomljanovic in straight sets.
It was a similar story for Pliskova prior to her tense semi-final with Aryna Sabalenka, which saw her lose the first set of her campaign before fighting back to reach only a second ever Grand Slam final.
None of Tamara Zidansek, Donna Vekic, Tereza Martincova, Ludmilla Samsonova nor Viktorija Golubic had managed to take a set off the Czech star.
That was something of a surprise, given Pliskova’s record in SW19 was far from impressive prior to 2021.
Pliskova said: "It's amazing, until now I didn't get past the fourth round — now I'm in the final. It's an amazing achievement.”
This is the eighth time Barty and Pliskova have met, with the No1 seed winning five of those games.
But that does not tell the whole story.
Only once has Barty won in straight sets, while their only meeting in a Grand Slam saw Pliskova triumph 6-4 6-4 in the last 16 at the 2018 US Open.
They have met twice on grass, with Pliskova triumphing in Nottingham in 2016 and Barty winning their first ever meeting at the same venue way back in 2012 when she was just a teenager
Pliskova said: “Every time we’ve played it was close. I never played a horrible match against her.
“I had a lot of chances last match I think. I’m not expecting anything easy, but definitely there’s going to be chances.”
Living the dream
For both players, just reaching the showpiece at the All England Club is a huge achievement.
While Pliskova’s only previous Grand Slam final saw her lose the 2016 US Open to Angelique Kerber, Barty has tasted success in Paris.
Now she is aiming to become the first Aussie to win the women’s draw at Wimbledon since her friend and mentor Evonne Goolagong Cawley did so in 1980.
Barty said: “I've had an incredible journey. Ups and downs and everything in between, and I wouldn't change one moment.
“It's been unique, incredible, it's been tough. There have been so many things that have led to this moment. I'm enjoying every single minute.
"Being able to play on the final Saturday at Wimbledon is going to be just the best experience ever."