Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova celebrates winning second set against Aryna Sabalenka’s during the women’s singles semifinals match on day ten of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Thursday, July 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
- No. 1 seed Ashleigh Barty takes on No. 8 Karolina Pliskova in Saturday’s women’s singles final
- Barty holds a 5-2 head-to-head, but five of the seven matches went three sets
- We break down the matchup on Sunday at 9:00 am EDT and predict the champion below
Ashleigh Barty’s dream, coming into Wimbledon, was to make the second week.
And here she is in the women’s singles final.
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Ashleigh Barty vs Karolina Pliskova Odds
| Ashleigh Barty (AUS)||-3.5 (-124)||-250||O 21.5 (-112)|
| Karolina Pliskova (CZE)||+3.5 (+102)||+205||U 21.5 (-109)|
Odds as of July 9 at DraftKings
Barty the Favorite for First Wimbledon Title
Barty was the favorite, along with Serena Williams (whose 2021 Wimbledon lasted only six games) to take the title. But injury concerns coming in tempered those expectations. Even for the player herself.
But as the tournament progressed, her confidence in her physical state rose along with the level of her tennis.
Other than one hiccup in the second set of her opening match against Carla Suárez Navarro, Barty hasn’t dropped a set in the Championships.
She was down 5-3 in the second set to 2018 champion Angelique Kerber in the semifinal, with Kerber serving to take it the distance. But she came back and won that set in a tiebreak, and the match along with it.
Not only did she avoid the fickle nature of a decider, but she also saved her body another hour of wear and tear. And so she will be that much fresher for the final.
Pliskova Turning 2021 Season Around at Wimbledon
For Karolina Pliskova, whose booming serve should have always made her a threat on the grass, Wimbledon has never been a happy place.
In her first six main-draw appearances, she couldn’t win back-to-back matches. Her 2018 and 2019 campaigns stalled in the round of 16.
This year, she lost her opening matches at grass-court tuneups in Berlin and Eastbourne. So there was no indication of form coming in.
2021 Wimbledon Odds Tracker
A Very Good Draw, Maximized
Pliskova had help.
Her 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 victory over No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka in Thursday’s semifinal was the first time she had faced a seeded player in the tournament.
No. 4 Sofia Kenin, No. 23 Madison Keys and No. 13 Elise Mertens all went out before she could face them.
And, most notably, No. 22 seed Jessica Pegula – who has beaten Pliskova four times in 2021 with the loss of just one set – was upset in the second round by wild card Liudmila Samsonova. Pliskova then defeated Samsonova 6-2, 6-3 in the round of 16.
No player has been more in Pliskova’s head this season. And no player has had more of an impact on her pedestrian 15-12 won-loss record coming in.
To get to a final, you need a few breaks.
Ashleigh Barty vs Karolina Pliskova Match History
|2021||Stuttgart (QF)||Indoor Clay||2-6, 6-1, 7-5||Barty|
|2019||WTA Finals (SF)||Indoor Hard||4-6, 6-2, 6-3||Barty|
|2019||Miami (F)||Outdoor Hard||7-6 (1), 6-3||Barty|
|2018||US Open (R16)||Outdoor Hard||6-4, 6-4||Pliskova|
|2017||Wuhan (QF)||Outdoor Hard||4-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (2)||Barty|
|2016||Nottingham (QF)||Grass||7-6 (2), 7-6 (7)||Pliskova|
|2012||Nottingham 2 (SF)||Grass||2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (6)||Barty|
Ace Queen vs Slice Return
In their semifinal, Pliskova and Sabalenka had the most aces in a women’s singles match, since they began keeping track in 1977.
But Barty is a much better returner than Sabalenka.
Her slice on the backhand and versatility (if necessary) on the forehand means she will put a lot more returns into play. And Pliskova will probably feel like she’s facing Steffi Graf because Barty will make the 6-1 Czech bend and dip for slice backhands, all match long.
Ashleigh Barty vs Karolina Pliskova Head-to-Head
|25 (April 23, 1996)||Age||29 (March 20, 1992)|
|Ipswich, Australia||Birthplace||Louny, Czech Republic|
|11||Career WTA Singles Titles||16|
|1||Career Grand Slam Titles||0|
|No. 1 (June 23, 2019)||Career High Ranking||No. 1 (July 6, 2017)|
|No. 1||Current Ranking||No. 13|
|$18,798,304||Career Prize Money||$20,973,860|
|33-6||2021 Won/Loss record||21-12|
|5||Career Head to Head||2|
Expect a Close, Tight Contest
The matches Barty and Pliskova have played against each other on grass are ancient history by now.
But what has been consistent is how tight all their encounters have been, despite Barty’s 5-2 edge in the head-to-head.
Five of their seven meetings have gone three sets (+150).
Six out of the seven times, Pliskova has won the first set (+170).
Four out of their seven matches have featured at least one tiebreak. Two of them had two tiebreaks. (+275)
So there are plenty of attractive props, beyond just picking the winner.
Best Bet: Barty in three sets (+300)
Stephanie gets the straight dope from the tennis insiders. On court, she has represented her country internationally. A BA in journalism led to years on the MLB beat and a decade covering tennis globally. She’s written for Postmedia, the Guardian, the New York Times and also publishes OpenCourt.ca.