Fixture: (1) Ashleigh Barty vs (8) Karolina Pliskova
Date: 10 July 2021
Tournament: The Championships, Wimbledon
Venue: London, Great Britain
Category: Grand Slam
Prize money: £17,066,000
Match timing: 2 pm local time, 1 pm GMT, 9 am EST, 6.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel & ESPN | UK - BBC TV & Radio | India - Star Sports / Disney+ Hotstar VIP
Ashleigh Barty vs Karolina Pliskova preview
After two weeks of riveting tennis, Ashleigh Barty and Karolina Pliskova will take the court on Saturday for a chance at lifting the coveted Venus Rosewater Dish.
Both women were thoroughly tested in their respective semifinal matches. Barty fended off a second-set comeback from former champion Angelique Kerber to claim a 6-3, 7-6(3) win, while Pliskova survived a three-set battle against second seed Aryna Sabalenka for a 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 victory.
This will be the second Grand Slam final for each of the women. While Barty won her first at Roland Garros 2019, Pliskova lost hers to Angelique Kerber at the 2016 US Open. Interestingly, Kerber was ranked World No. 1 when she faced the Czech in New York - just like Barty is right now.
Having already won three titles this year - in Melbourne, Miami and Stuttgart - Barty is looking in commanding form at the moment. After a second-round retirement at Roland Garros due to injury, Barty has produced a remarkable run to her maiden Wimbledon final, dropping just one set along the way.
The 25-year-old is bidding to become the first Australian woman to be crowned champion at the All England Club since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980.
Pliskova, meanwhile, is one of just six active players to have reached the semifinals at all four Majors. But the Czech's form in recent months hasn't been great; her last WTA title came at the Brisbane International in January last year.
Pliskova's start to 2021 was well below the expectations, as she faced early exits at most tournaments. The 29-year-old did manage to reach the final in Rome, but she was handed a double bagel there by Iga Swiatek.
Pliskova went on to suffer first-round losses in Berlin and Nottingham, and she came into Wimbledon severely short on confidence. That makes her stellar run to the final all the more impressive; the Czech's change in fortunes has been both sudden and dramatic.
Pliskova is hoping to become just the third Czech woman ever to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish, and the first since Petra Kvitova in 2014.
Ashleigh Barty vs Karolina Pliskova head-to-head
The duo's long-standing rivalry consists of seven matches between them, with Ashleigh Barty currently leading the head-to-head over Karolina Pliskova 5-2. Their most recent encounter took place at the 2021 Stuttgart Open, which Barty won in three tight sets.
Ashleigh Barty vs Karolina Pliskova prediction
Although Asheligh Barty leads the head-to-head, she hasn't met Karolina Pliskova on grass since 2016. This will be a fresh challenge for both women, particularly so because of their contrasting playing styles.
Barty boasts of a diverse skill-set and relies heavily on her backhand slice to maneuver the rallies to her advantage. Pliskova, on the other hand, has explosive groundstrokes and she often looks to fire quick winners.
The players do have one similarity though: the ability to produce big serves and aces. In her semifinal match against Sabalenka, Pliskova thundered down 14 aces and got broken just once in two hours of play. Barty on her part hit eight aces and won a whopping 88% of points on her first serve against Kerber.
While both women can strike winners with ease, it is Barty's ability to stay in the longer exchanges that might trouble Pliskova on Saturday. The Czech has shown lapses in concentration during her matches in the past; she can get impatient if points don't come too easily.
Barty can be expected to gain the upper hand with her variety and defense, for which Pliskova may not always have an answer.
Prediction: Ashleigh Barty to win in three sets.