“It’s a really special anniversary for Evonne,” Barty said. “I couldn’t be more proud to be in a position to wear an outfit inspired by her. Now to kind of give myself a chance to create some history almost in a way that’s a tribute to her is really exciting. I couldn’t be more rapt to have that opportunity on Saturday.”
WTA Tour wrap: Barty to take on Pliskova in Wimbledon final
A FIRST-TIME Wimbledon champion will be named on Saturday night, as Ash Barty and Karolina Pliskova contest The Championships trophy. With both making their Wimbledon final debut following semi-final wins, expect a tantalising contest between the top 15 talents. While Barty has one grand slam final and one win behind her, Pliskova will be out hunting with one final loss under her belt and looking to touch the untouchable.
The matchup between Barty and former champion Angelique Kerber was always going to be a tough one, with the Australian quickly claiming the first set before the German 25th seed fought back to almost steal away the momentum. But with the 50th anniversary of Evonne Goolagong Cawley‘s breakthrough Wimbledon title on her mind, Barty broke through to fight from a break down in the second set to seal the deal and claim the 6-3 7-6(3) victory.
“Yeah, it was incredible,” Barty said post-match. “It was just almost a moment of relief, a moment of pure excitement. It was something that I’d never, never knew if I would feel. I think being able to have an opportunity to play in a final here at Wimbledon is incredible.”
Given Barty and Kerber had never played one another on the grass surface, the clash was always going to provide plenty of intrigue – especially given their respective recent form, with Barty retaining her world number one position with a scintillating 2021, and Kerber showcasing glimpses of her 2016 leading form over the past few months. But during this clash it was not to be for the German, as Barty piled on 38 winners – eight aces – for just 16 unforced errors, also winning a whopping 88 per cent of points off her first serve.
“I wasn’t sure if it would ever happen honestly,” Barty said. “I think you have to keep putting yourself in the position. I think Wimbledon for me has been an amazing place of learning. I think 10 years ago I came here for the first time as a junior and learned a lot in that week.
“I think a lot of the time your greatest growth comes from your darkest times. I think that’s why this tournament has been so important to me. I’ve learned so much with all my experiences, the good, bad, everything in between I’ve been able to learn from.”
Pliskova was forced to overcome a tough start before claiming her Wimbledon final berth, as her opposition in second seed Aryna Sabalenka piled on the pressure from the get-go. But despite a tight first set not going her way, the Czech talent rallied from then on to claim the eventual 5-7 6-4 6-4 result in one hour and 53 minutes.
It was a battle of the power servers with neither player letting up, piling on 14 aces (Pliskova) and 18 aces (Sabalenka) respectively as they worked to steal away momentum. While Sabalenka marginally hit more winners (38-32), she also hit more unforced errors (20-17) as Pliskova ran away with the result, winning more points on return to skew the result in her favour and head into her first major final since 2016.
“Coming into this tournament, the dream was to make the second week, of course, because I was not in [a Grand Slam] second week for a while,” Pliskova said in her post-match press conference. “Never I thought about maybe going into the final.”
“After losing the first set, I thought it was going to be super tough to win this match,” Pliskova said. “Then to win two sets in a row with the way how she was serving today – I think she was serving incredible, all my chances she just put amazing serves in. Super proud about the way how I handled the situation out there, the second and third set, and that I served out the match.”
The battle between Barty and Pliskova will be immense, with both players aiming for their maiden Wimbledon title – the first time since 1977 that the decider will play out between two players who have never reached the final before – and plenty of intrigue surrounding their head to head, with the Australian leading 5-2 with the most recent coming on clay in April this year and requiring three sets to overcome the Czech talent.
“It can’t be any better than that,” Pliskova said, looking forward to the final. “You want to play the best player in the final. Of course, I don’t want anybody else but [Barty] there.”
“We had some good matches,” Pliskova said. “Of course, I lost a couple times, but I think she has an extremely difficult game to play. It’s going to be difficult on grass because of her slice and just her game overall.
“It’s a final. Anything can happen. I know she has a Grand Slam, but also for her it’s the first Wimbledon final. I think we both have good chances. It’s going to be hopefully a good match to watch as well because with her it’s always interesting. We’re going to see what’s going to happen.”
WIMBLEDON SEMI FINALS RESULTS:
 Ash Barty (AUS) defeated  Angelique Kerber (GER) 6-3 7-6
 Karolina Pliskova (CZE) defeated  Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 5-7 6-4 6-4
Picture credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester