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Five years ago, Aussie tennis fans were celebrating, after Ash Barty became the first Australian in 46 years to win the title at Roland Garros.

The Queenslander defeated – more like dominated – Czech player, Marketa Vondrousova 6-1 6-3 in just over an hour, to lift her maiden grand slam trophy. Despite the fact she breezed through most of the tournament, or maybe because of that, there remained the naysayers who were wanting to talk her achievement down. Just as they would do two years later when Emma Raducanu won the US Open, and at this years Australian Open when Qinwen Zheng reached the final, critics were quick to point out the calibre of players that Barty defeated en-route to the title.

It’s true, Barty didn’t have to face a top ten player over the two weeks. In fact, she only played against one player inside the top 30 – Madison Keys, who was ranked 14 at the time. At the end of the day, one can only play the ball that is coming over the net to them at the time. If the big seeds fell early, that sure wasn’t Ash’s fault.

We’re now 5 years on, so how does the title run look now in hindsight?

Round 1:

Jessica Pegula (USA) 

Ranking at the time: 72

Career high rank: 3

Career highlights:

Jess Pegula has been one of the most consistent performers over the last few years, reaching the quarter-finals of every Grand Slam event. Jess was 25 years old at the time, and yet to find peak form. But she’s definitely been a late bloomer. In addition to her consistent Slam results, she’s also made the final of 10 WTA events, winning 4 titles.

A straight sets 6-3 6-3 win to kick off her campaign looks fairly straight forward, but these days, you don’t see Pegula bowing out in round 1.

Round 2:

Danielle Collins (USA)

Ranking at the time: 36

Career high rank: 7

Career highlights:

Danielle is currently in the form of her life, in her final season before she retires. But even at the time, the ranking of 36 was somewhat misleading. Collins had reached the semi-final of the Australian Open just a few months beforehand. She went on to reach the quarter-finals in Paris the following season, and we all know what happened in 2022, when Ash and Danielle would meet in the final at the Australian Open. Danielle had a huge chance to take the first set, but Ash was too good. Just as she was on this day, with a 7-5 6-1 victory.

Round 3:

Andrea Petkovic (Germany)

Ranking at the time: 69

Career high rank: 9

Career highlights:

Andrea may have been in the twilight of her career, but she was an extremely competent clay court player, having reached the quarter-finals, and semi-finals in Paris previously. A winner of 7 WTA titles, and a further 6 finals appearances, Andrea was, and remains, one of Germany’s best players this century. However, Ash had very few troubles in dispatching her, 6-3 6-1.

Round 4:

Sofia Kenin (USA)

Ranking at the time: 35

Career high rank: 4

Career highlights:

At the time, reaching the 4th round of the tournament, was Kenin’s best result at a major, so it may have looked a fairly straight-forward match-up for Ash. But fast-forward 12 months, and Sofia was an Australian Open champion, and a French Open finalist, proving she was more than competent on multiple surfaces, and deserving of her top 5 ranking just 10 months after this clash. The match was tight at 1 set all, but Barty skipped away in the final set to post a 6-3 3-6 6-0 win, and a place in the quarter finals.


Madison Keys (USA)

Ranking at the time: 14

Career high rank: 7

Career highlights:

Madison was the only seed that Ash faced during the tournament, and was coming off a semi-final here in the previous year. She had also reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, and the semi-final of the US Open in 2018. Add that to her runner-up in New York in 2017, and this was a very accomplished opponent for Ash to take care of. Madison has been ranked inside the top 20 for the best part of a decade, and with the power she puts on the ball, a 6-3 7-5 win was probably the moment a lot of tennis experts opened their minds to Barty winning the tournament.


Amanda Anisimova (USA)

Ranking at the time: 51

Career high rank: 21

Career highlights:

Amanda was only 17 back in 2019, and had just defeated Simona Halep, to make it through to the semi-finals in only her 4th major event. She had reached the 4th round of the Australian Open, and was really starting to make a name for herself. This was probably the toughest match Barty had during the fortnight, with the young American playing like she had nothing to lose. She took the first set 7-6, before the Australian gathered herself, to win the next two set, 6-3 6-3. Since then, sadly, Amanda hasn’t been able to get consistently on court due to injuries and family tragedies, but there’s no doubt she’s talented enough to get back towards the top 20.


Marketa Vondrousova (Cze)

Ranking at the time: 38

Career high rank: 6

Career highlights:

Another teenager, Marketa was only 19 when she went on this extraordinary run to the final. She had made the 4th round of the US Open in 2018, but apart from that, there was no sign of what was to come.

In 2023 the Czech won the biggest title there is to win – Wimbledon, while also making the quarter finals of the US Open. Interestingly, although she has the Wimbledon title under her belt, and is currently still inside the top 10, it’s arguable Vondrousova has the least impressive resume so far, of all Ash’s opponents during the fortnight. And unfortunately for her, on this day in Paris, she was absolutely no match for Barty, who comfortably took out the final in straight sets, 6-1 6-3.


Playing in a major is an amazing achievement. Winning a major title is phenomenal. A player can only defeat who their opponent is on the day. Although there may have been some discussion at the time about the level of competitors Ash Barty faced, looking back 5 years later, it’s a 7 match streak that absolutely stacks up. Six of the 7 reached the top ten, 2 of them went on to win their own major titles. But none of them were a match for Ash. That’s why she’ll always be a French open champion.


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