Ash Barty wins Yarra Valley Classic, Russia wins ATP Cup final

Top-ranked Barty claimed her second WTA on home soil with a 7-6 (3), 6-4 win over sixth-seeded Garbine Muguruza.

Ashleigh Barty celebrates after defeating Garbine Muguruza on Sunday. - AP

Top-ranked Ash Barty cashed in on her first championship point in the Yarra Valley Classic and Daniil Medvedev clinched the ATP Cup title for Russia within seconds of each other on Sunday as the six tuneup tournaments for the Australian Open started to culminate on the eve of the year’s first major.

After a hectic preparation, which included 14-day quarantines under strict COVID-19 pandemic regulations for all players, coaches and staff flying in for the Australian Open, the warmup week was being capped with five finals and two semifinals.

Top-ranked Barty claimed her second WTA on home soil with a 7-6 (3), 6-4 win over sixth-seeded Garbine Muguruza, the Australian Open runner-up last year.

There were small clusters of spectators at Margaret Court Arena to watch Barty’s match. Still, that’s more of a crowd than most players have been accustomed to for their matches during the pandemic. On Monday, when the Australian Open starts, there’s expected to be up to 30,000 fans at Melbourne Park.

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“Thanks for making this week possible,” Barty said to the organisers. “From a player standpoint, we’re incredibly grateful.”

Of the crowd, she said: “For us, this is what makes the magic happen.”

“I’m so grateful you can be here making it extra special for us,” she added. “Seeya next week.”

Barty will get the day off on Monday because the bottom half of the Australian Open women’s draw will be played on the first day, featuring Serena Williams starting another bid for a record 24th Grand Slam singles title, No. 3-ranked Naomi Osaka and No. 2-ranked Simona Halep.

The top half of the men’s draw is set for Monday, with Novak Djokovic starting his quest for a third consecutive Australian Open title with a first-round match against Jeremy Chardy and No. 3-ranked Dominic Thiem, the runner-up here last year, opening against Mikhail Kukushkin.

RUSSIA WINS ATP CUP

At Rod Laver Arena, No. 4-ranked Daniil Medvedev secured Russia’s 2-0 win over Italy in the ATP Cup final when he beat Matteo Berrettini 6-4, 6-2. Andrey Rublev had given Russia a commanding start with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Fabio Fognini.

Russia didn’t lose a singles match during the group stage or the playoffs, and is the second team to win the ATP Cup after Novak Djokovic led Serbia to the inaugural title last year.