Barty keeps calm and carries on in Australian Open campaign
MELBOURNE – World number one Ash Barty on Thursday will face
American 21-year-old Sofia Kenin for a chance to become the first
Australian woman to reach the final of her home slam in 40 years.
The 23-year-old has been resetting records two years after returning
to the sport from a 21-month hiatus, having had a breakout year in
2019 when she became the third Australian woman to win the Roland
Garros and ascended to the world number one ranking.
The Queenslander has also been red hot in 2020 so far, kicking things
off with her first title on home soil in Adelaide and following up
with an impressive performance so far at Melbourne Park.
A year after being kicked out of the home major in the quarter-finals
by Petra Kvitova, who went on to lose in the final to Naomi Osaka,
Barty proceeded to defeat the Czech in straight sets in the same
stage of this year's competition.
The field would appear wide open for Barty to finish the job, with
just fourth seed Simona Halep left on the board from the top-10 and
with Osaka and 23-time major winner Serena Williams out.
"I don't pay attention to [the excitement] honestly. I'm here to try
and do the best that I can. Obviously it's exciting. Hopefully I can
bring a smile to a few faces around our country and around the
world," Barty said after the quartzer-final.
"For me, it's trying to do the best that I can, find that enjoyment
for myself and my team."
Her American opponent, seeded 14th, is also coming off the back of a
great 2019 campaign in which she won three WTA titles and defeated
Williams en route to the fourth round of the French Open, where her
run ended at the hand of Barty.
"[Kenin] is an exceptional competitor ... loves to put herself out
there, test herself on the biggest stage," Barty said.
Kenin has defeated Barty only once in their five meetings so far.
"According to the result for now, it's Ash [who should win] ... it's
going to be a good match," the 21-year-old American said.
"I'm excited. Of course, she's playing at her home, so it's a little
bit different. I made a lot of new fans. Hopefully I'll get some
support, have a good match."
The other spot in the final will be filled by a two-time slam
champion and former world number one, though whether it will
be Garbine Muguruza or Simona Halep will be decided at Rod Laver
Arena later in the day.
A resurgent Muguruza defeated 30th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in a
tough battle to reach her first Australian Open semi-final, equalling
her best result at a major since the 2018 Roland Garros.
Meanwhile fourth seed Halep has breezed through to the last four, not
dropping a set throughout the whole campaign and dismissing Estonia's
Anett Kontaveit in the quarters in under an hour.
"Perfection doesn't exist, but I'm very happy with the way I played,
I felt good on court ... it was a great match," Halep said of her