Australia’s Ash Barty has advanced to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open for the third straight year after a 6-3, 6-4 defeat of USA’s world no. 57 Shelby Rogers.
The two had met a bit over a week ago at the Yarra Valley Classic in the quarterfinals. It took a match tiebreaker for the world no. 1 to get past Rogers on that occasion.
Barty was looking sharp in her match in an empty Rod Laver Arena. She opened with a comfortable service hold.
A string of unforced errors as Barty faced the opening game from Rogers saw the American hold to love.
Barty is brilliant at breaking down her opponents.
In the fourth game Barty started with a forehand winner to put the pressure on her opponent. A backhand unforced error from Rogers further added to the enormity of the moment.
Barty had a look at two break points at 15-40 after a backhand unforced error from Rogers but the first was saved with a 166 kmh Ace.
On the next point the 18th shot was hit for a winner by Barty for her to take the first break of the match. Barty held the next game to extend her lead to 4-1.
In the seventh game the 175cm (5 ft. 9 in) American looked to hit back when she secured a break point at 30-40 after hitting a forehand winner.
A backhand unforced error saw that opportunity slip away only to have another look, after a backhand winner.
An unplayable serve followed by an Ace took Barty to game point before another winner from the racquet of Rogers.
A Barty winner negated that opportunity before the Australian would finally hold for 5-2 after a backhand unforced error by the American.
Both players held serve Barty had secured the first set 6-3 after 29 minutes.
Barty was in control. Her serve was well placed and putting pressure on Rogers. The Barty backhand slice is one of the best and her improved forehand adds to her arsenal.
Rogers and Barty held to get the second set started. In the third game, two unforced errors from Rogers saw her fall behind 0-30. Rogers got to 15-30 before another unforced error from Rogers took Barty to 15-40.
Rogers would force two forehand errors from the world no. 1 to move to deuce only to make back-to-back unforced errors to concede the game.
Barty would hold to consolidate the break and then repeat the break and hold to lead 5-1.
Rogers held to stay in the match and it was expected that Barty would serve out to claim her third quarterfinal spot at the Australian Open in three years.
It was not to happen like that despite Barty holding two match points at 40-15. A double fault saw the first one wasted.
A forced error and two unforced errors saw Barty drop serve for the first time in the match.
Rogers would hold serve to again force the Australian to serve for the match.
This time Barty was not letting another opportunity slip as she won the game to love.
It was the 21 winners to 14 and 16 unforced errors to 25 that helped Barty take the win.
Barty setup a quarterfinal match against Czech player Karolina Muchova the 25th seed.
“I knew it was going to be vital to serve well tonight. That was something I really wanted to try and focus on, just to try and give myself a chance to be in control of more points,” Barty said.
“Obviously it’s exciting to be in another quarterfinal of a Grand Slam, particularly here in Australia,” Barty said.
“The start that we have had so far is really encouraging, but certainly not satisfied with where we’re at at the moment. We will keep chipping away and keep trying to do the right things to progress as far as we can.”
Muchova again had to overcome a big deficit in a set. In the previous round she recovered from 0-5 in the second set against country woman Karolina Pliskova.
In her round four match Muchova was down 0-4 and 2-5 in the opening set against the 18th seed Elise Mertens.
With Mertens serving for the first set she was broken to love. She again failed to serve out the set at 5-4.
The surging Muchova went on to win four straight games to lead 6-5. Mertens would hold to see the players into a tiebreaker.
Muchova took the breaker and then broke in the first game of the second set. Mertens broke back for 2-2 only to again drop serve in the 11th game to give her opponent the chance to serve out the match.
The 24-year-old Czech served two Aces to open the game before serving out to love to take the match.
Barty leads the H2H 1-0 after a Round of 32 win at the 2018 US Open.