6 min read
Ashleigh Barty (UTR Rating 13.31*) and Karolina Pliskova (UTR Rating 12.80) will battle for the honor of Wimbledon champion on Saturday. Neither has won at the All England Club before, though both have plenty of Grand Slam experience with Barty winning the 2019 Roland Garros title and Pliskova finishing runner-up at the 2016 US Open.
On Thursday, No. 1 seed Barty fought past 2018 Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber (UTR Rating 12.76) in straight sets 6-3, 7-6(3). This fortnight, Barty has faced just two seeds (No. 25 Kerber and No. 14 Barbora Krejcikova) and has lost only one set (in the first round to Carla Suarez Navarro in a tie-break). Her best win has been over 2021 Roland Garros winner Krejcikova (UTR Rating 12.96).
Barty, a junior Wimbledon champion 10 years ago, has a special relationship with the All England Club.
“I think each and every time you have the opportunity to play at Wimbledon, it's a feeling of gratitude and opportunity and excitement,” she said. “Having that feeling when I walk through the gates of the All England Club for the first time when I was 15, that feeling is still the same each and every day I walk through the gates now. That hasn't changed.”
No. 8-seeded Pliskova has also given up just one set and in four of her five first matches, she didn’t lose more than three games per set. Her road until the semifinals was met with even less resistance: She didn’t face a seeded player until beating No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka (UTR Rating 13.18) 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday. The Czech’s best win has been against Sabalenka, who she had never beaten before.
“Until now I didn't pass the fourth round and now I'm in the final so I think it’s an incredible achievement,” Pliskova said.
A closer look at the Wimbledon final with INSIGHTS
Barty is favored with a 77% win probability and a higher UTR Rating, 13.31 to 12.80, as well as a higher Trending UTR Rating, 13.29 to 12.83. Barty has the most recent head-to-head win, topping Pliskova in Stuttgart in three sets on her way to the title. The Australian has a 7-3 record versus common opponents compared to Pliskova’s 8-7 record. She even has the higher-rated best win (Garbine Muguruza).
INSIGHTS analysis is based on the last 15 months. Dating back to their first meeting in 2012, Barty actually leads the head-to-head record against Pliskova 5-2. In terms of pre-major momentum, they're similar: Pliskova went 0-2 in Wimbledon lead-up events and exited in the second round of Roland Garros. Barty retired in the second round of Roland Garros and played no warm-up events whatsoever.
Barty played very little during 2020 due to the pandemic and her home base of Australia yet she held onto the World No. 1 ranking. The time away did little to dim her game: In 2021, she has picked up three WTA titles, including her second Miami crown. Pliskova is looking to raise her first trophy since January 2020. Before Wimbledon, she failed to win more than two consecutive matches in 12 of 13 tournaments this season (the exception being the Rome final).
“It’s difficult of course if you’re not doing well,” Pliskova said. “But I think still to stay positive. My team is super positive. I think thanks to them I manage to stay calm and positive and also trust in myself and in my game because I know I had success in the past so it’s not about that. I
Before the grass-court major got underway, INSIGHTS gave 25-year-old Barty a leading 24% chance of winning Wimbledon, and Pliskova just a 1% chance. As Pliskova has torn through the draw, INSIGHTS dubbed the 29-year-old as the “best performer” since she’s a 12.80 UTR Rating performing like a 13.14 (+0.33) over her first five matches.
Along with her Roland Garros trophy, Barty has been to the Australian Open quarterfinals twice and semifinals once. Pliskova, seeking her maiden Grand Slam, has appeared in four quarterfinals, two semifinals, and one final. Given the grandness of a Wimbledon final, fans can expect to see nerves from Barty and Pliskova when they take to Centre Court, but also a lot of composure with their experience at this level.
If Barty wins, she'll be the first Australian women's Wimbledon winner since Evonne Goolagong in 1980. Barty is fittingly wearing a Fila outfit honoring the 50th anniversary of Goolagong's 1971 Wimbledon title. Pliskova could become the third Czech champion in history, joining the late Jana Novotna and Petra Kvitova.
•UTR Ratings and INSIGHTS probabilities as of 4 p.m. EST, July 8, 2021.