Barty lays down Aussie Open marker with dominant win over Muguruza

Melbourne (AFP) –


World number one Ashleigh Barty signalled her intent ahead of the Australian Open with a straight-sets victory over in-form Garbine Muguruza to win the final of the Yarra Valley Classic warm-up event on Sunday.

Barty, playing with the roof shut on Margaret Court Arena, ramped up her preparations by wearing down the two-time Grand Slam champion 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 in one hour and 47 minutes to win her ninth WTA singles title.

The 24-year-old, competing in her first tournament in 11 months, received a confidence boost having struggled to rediscover her best in her earlier matches and then missing out on court time when Serena Williams pulled out of their semi-final.

"I couldn't wait to get on the court quick enough," said Barty, who hit 28 winners.

Muguruza had dropped just 10 games in her four earlier matches, in echoes of the 2017 form that took her to world number one, but she was unable to sustain her red-hot run.

"We're very grateful to have fans after almost a year without crowds," said the world number 15 to a smattering of spectators as intermittent rain fell outside.