In my feature match for the final day of action from the first week at the Miami Open, we saw Australian twenty-first seed Ashleigh Barty play a solid match against an erratic and unenergised Petra Martic of Croatia as Barty went on to the 6-4, 6-3 win in the first match on Court 2. Overall, it was a bizarre match from Barty because she was only serving at 35% first serves but she was able to take control off returns and was lucky that her opponent was making many cheap return errors which cost her the match. It was a tough one for Martic because she started full of energy and taking advantage of a non-electric Barty but after she lost her break lead in the first she lost all her energy and was handing away games and points and she did not get her fight back until the very end of the match.
It was a real signpost start from Ashleigh Barty as she got some good serves into open and held to love before going on and carving out two breaks points in her first return game. Petra Martic was able to save those points with long rallies and then, after the two exchanged comfortable service holds, it was Martic who attacked some of the many weaker serves to secure the break and then continued to bide out the rallies waiting for her opportunity to strike with a big shot as she consolidated for a 2-4 lead. She then gave Barty a free service hold due to some very poor errors and that is what spiralled her into a bad period of play that did last a while. Martic started to target the backhand at that point but that was making a lot fewer errors today for Barty so it backfired on Martic and started making her job a lot harder. It all happened very rapidly towards the end as Barty broke back to level at 4-4 before Martic played one of her worst games of the match to give Barty the final break and the 6-4 set with her fourth straight game.
Ashleigh Barty showed from the start that she was not going to let up as she was able to come to the net a few times off her second serve to put pressure on the opponent and it certainly worked with Petra Martic, who was easily broken to love as Barty went out to a 2-0 lead. It looked the Australian was cruising through this match until, while up a break, Barty played her only real bad game and was broken back immediately. It turned out not to bother Barty as she turned around to benefit from Martic’s errors this time to reclaim her break lead, which she consolidated minutes later and Barty had the 4-1 lead. Martic’s coach came on at this point and she seemed to give her some energy to really give everything she had which was reflected in Martic as in the next two service games from here had big serves and bigger groundstrokes and she did fight through two duece games to get on the board. Despite the better play, it still was not enough as Barty was able to get enough big serves in to secure herself the too comfortable holds of serve and the 6-4, 6-3 win.