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All roads led to Ashleigh Barty, but the lace was missing. And it came. The 25-year-old Australian put the tie (6-3, 7-6(2) on Danielle Collins, in 1h 27m) to the great work of art that she has signed during these two weeks in Melbourne, where she has once again stood out as a masterful competitor and, above all, an exceptional tennis player. In the strictest sense of the word. In the midst of a current that prioritizes power and speed, the game of a single direction, she stands out with an intelligent, creative proposal without corsets. It is different, it is not the highest, the most spectacular or the one that hits the ball the hardest; however, it masters space-time conjunction and point control like no other. Australia, finally, sighs and kills its great player.

Ever since Chris O’Neil triumphed in the 1978 edition, the host country had resisted the women’s title. 44 years is a long time, and more for a nation in which tennis is so important and its players have reported so much success. There is the legendary Margaret Court –24 majors and 11 local titles–, as well as other champions like Evone Goolagong, Kerry Melville and O’Neil herself, the last winner at home. Almost half a century was a long time, so there was some anxiety. All eyes were on Barty. The number one accused her in the last three rounds, staying twice in the quarters and once in the semifinals. But this time he did not fail. For a while, Collins tilted the final, but the swerve was extraordinary.

The American threatened to get up, 5-1 up in the second set, but the champion’s reaction was furious, in her style, stitch by stitch. Barty does not have a grandiose profile, but he does have the most exquisite game of all. No one possesses her backhand cut, her master tool, nor is another player capable of processing the rally with such insight and such a wide range of responses. Chameleonic, it adapts to all surfaces and all kinds of situations. On this occasion he coldly undid the knot and was crowned in front of his fans, rounding off a fabulous month: before the Open he raised the Adelaide trophy, and then the tour of Melbourne. Full. Only Collins was able to argue with him. The rest, no tickles.

The Australian completed her work without giving up a single set, only 30 games and serving only twice. The American snatched it from her in the final, but the debate did not go too far. Barty, born in the Queensland region (Ipswich), in the northeast of the country, won her third Grand Slam and her record already reflects victories of all colors: the reddish color of the clay (Roland Garros 2019), the green of the London grass ( Wimbledon 2021) and the turquoise of Melbourne cement. In this way, she is the only active player, along with the American Serena Williams, who has left her mark on all fields, affecting her variety of records. His palette is full of nuances. If it is necessary to chew the game more, he does so, and if the situation demands the direct route, he does not lack acceleration.

Multi-surface and the challenge of the Grand Slam

His name already shines alongside that of other figures who during the Open Era (from 1968) reached the top of three different layers: Chris Evert, Hana Mandlikova, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Maria Sharapova, Williams herself. Big words. Now he has the challenge of winning the Grand Slam poker game ahead of him, winning the four majors. Something at the height of very few. Only 10 made it. The last was the Russian Sharapova, when she rose at Roland Garros in 2012 and completed the bouquet.

“He has great defense, the best attack. It is good on both fast and slow tracks. If I had to bet money that someone is capable of doing it, I would have no doubt: I would do it for Barty”, pointed out Evert, winner of 18 majors, during the broadcast of the Eurosport channel.

On the way to it, Barty is only missing the US Open. It projects and continues to exalt the best tennis, and it does so in the current wavering era of women’s tennis. In the midst of an endless dance, with different champions every week and shooting stars that come and go, the Australian is the only certainty. In the midst of this unpredictable swing, she dominates with a firm step: she has accumulated 110 weeks as number one, 103 of them consecutively, and since she took over the helm in September 2019 she has definitely taken over the circuit. They are three majors in the last four years, a Maestas Cup (2019), three times at the top of the ranking the end of course.

There are many reasons that support the theory that the Australian, about to give up the racket – she took a break from 2014 to 2016 and dedicated herself to playing cricket – can enter the list of the most relevant players in history. For now, the drought is over. 44 years later, Australia is once again the champion.

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