By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) – Sometimes, tennis is just about grinding through the bad moments and Ashleigh Barty did just that on Friday when she weathered tough conditions and a fierce opponent to reach the French Open final.
The eighth-seeded Barty, bidding to become the first Australian in 46 years to lift the women’s trophy at Roland Garros, beat Amanda Anisimova 6-7(4) 6-3 6-3 after wasting a 5-0 lead in the opener on a chilly Court Suzanne Lenglen.
Barty conceded six games in a row en route to losing the first set, and 17 points on the spin as 17-year-old Anisimova, who had finally found her range, won the tiebreak and opened up a 3-0 lead in the second.
“The occasion, the conditions, it was pretty brutal out there. I mean, I’m just proud of myself the way I was able to fight and scrap and hang in there and find a way when I kind of threw away that first set,” Barty, the first Australian woman in the final here since Sam Stosur in 2010, told reporters.
“But at the end of the day, it’s an amazing opportunity. Yeah, I think it was just a really challenging day.”
Barty first took full advantage of Anisimova’s early nerves but found herself on the back foot when the unseeded American gained composure and started hitting freely.
“I think the reset was easy after the first set. It was kind of during it that was the toughest bit,” she explained.
“I played some really good tennis. I played some pretty awful tennis. At the end of the day, I think I was able to scrap and fight and find a way to keep competing.
“And, yeah, that’s probably the best part that came out of today.”
Between her and the Suzanne Lenglen Cup now is another teenager, Czech Marketa Vondrousova, who has not dropped a set in the tournament.
The final will take place on Court Philippe Chatrier, the biggest arena in Roland Garros that sometimes proves intimidating to the players, prompting Barty to stress that nerves could be key.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for myself and my team. Like I said, we have worked so hard to put ourselves in these positions,” she said.
“Now we get to go out there and really enjoy it. That’s the only way to approach it is to go out and enjoy it, have fun, try and play with freedom.
“That’s ultimately when I play my best tennis and that’s what we are after.”
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge)