Barty surpasses Muguruza to win the Yarra Valley Traditional

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© Reuters. Yarra Valley Classic

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By Nick Mulvenney

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Ash Barty, world number 1, got off to a perfect start into her 2021 season when she beat Spaniard Garbine Muguruza 7-6 (3) 6-4 and won the Yarra Valley Classic Australian Open warm-up on Sunday won.

The 24-year-old Australian, who played her first tournament in almost a year, had to work hard for her second WTA title on home soil but had enough guns in her armory to take on the former French Open and Wimbledon champion claim.

"It's been a while for us between drinks, but I'm enjoying every minute of it," Barty told the socially distant crowd at Margaret Court Arena after receiving the trophy.

"I couldn't wait to get out of here and play this week."

Muguruza had only conceded ten games in four games on the way to the final, but made mistakes under pressure – 40 over the competition – and was not up to the determined Australian in the clutch moments.

Barty, who earned a spot in the title pick when Serena Williams (NYSE 🙂 was eliminated from the semifinals with an injury, had to hit back two service breaks to win a tight opening set in a tie.

She secured an early break in the second verse, but Muguruza was in no mood to give up her mini-winning streak without a fight and got the set back to serve.

However, Barty broke off again with 5: 4 before he got enthusiastic about the match and sealed the victory with a well-judged praise over the Spaniard in the back area.

"We are so happy and grateful that after almost a year we can play and have an audience. It's just amazing," said a smiling Muguruza, who lost to a finalist at Melbourne Park last year.

Barty's title triumph will only fuel expectations that she can bring Australia its first Grand Slam individual winner on home soil since Chris O'Neil in 1978.

The 2019 French Open champion, who was a semi-finalist here last year, has a day off to relax before opening her campaign against Danka Kovinic at the Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday.

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