Australia’s Ashleigh Barty has rocketed into her first Grand Slam semifinal after defeating USA’s Madison Keys 6-3, 7-5. This follows her Australian Open quarterfinal effort in January.
The match was completed in one hour and nine minutes, one minute longer than it took for her semifinal opponent to defeat the defending champion.
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Another American, Amanda Anisimova defeated Simona Halep 6-2, 6-4 to book her spot in her first Grand Slam semifinal against Ash Barty.
At this year’s French Open there will be a first-time Grand Slam champion as the four players are all yet to taste success at this level.
In the other semifinal former Australian and now British player Johanna Konta takes on Czech player Marketa Vondrousova.
Barty when talking about her tennis comeback said: “It was always the goal to come back and try and put myself in a position where I’m competing against the world’s best.” The 23-year-old has definitely ticked that box.
Two years ago it was Keys that easily defeated Barty in a round one encounter at Roland Garros. Earlier this year Barty showed she had come a long way since then, defeating Keys in straight sets during a Fed Cup tie.
Barty is one of the form players in 2019 having reached the Sydney International final, a quarterfinal at the Australian Open, claimed the Miami title and now has put in her best performance at the French Open.
In the match against Keys, it was Barty that was in control earlier in the sets. Barty had just one break point opportunity in the opening set and took advantage of that. She would go on and take the first set.
Just what makes Barty so good was on display at 2-2, 40-15 in the first set.
Keys hit a big forehand that pushed Barty well to the back of the court. Barty stretched and retrieved a ball that many would not, she tossed up a shot that Keys hit a drive volley from close to the net.
Barty read the shot and was there to hit a lob deep into her opponent’s court. Keys ran and hit a shot down the centre of the court. Barty replied with a drop shot, then Keys hit a drop shot. Barty was there and she played an angled backhand winner.
Reading the play and hitting the right shot is what Barty is all about. She also has one of the best backhand slice shots in the game.
Barty, the world no. 8 broke Keys in the 8th game after coming from 30-0. After the break she was ahead 5-3 and Barty served out the set.
In the second set it was again Barty that was first to break, that coming in the 7th game. This time with Barty serving for the match, Keys would hit back.
Barty would again break her opponent to again serve for the match at 6-5. Barty, this time would not let that opportunity get away from her. The Australian served out the match to love.
Barty moves a step closer to becoming the first Australian to win the French Open since Margaret Court claimed the title back in 1973.
“When I had my time off, I think it was just a gradual progression of missing the competition, missing what I loved. I love this sport, and I’m very lucky to be in the position I am now. With an amazing team around me, we’re enjoying it, having a lot of fun, having some amazing results,” said Barty who played cricket during her time away from the game.
“Oh, it’s incredible. I felt for myself and my team, we have approached this clay-court season a little bit differently to others. Have really enjoyed it, embraced it. Have been playing some pretty good tennis,” stated Barty, who is surprised her first major semi-final has occurred on clay.
“Ultimately, I feel like when I’m able to play my game style and my kind of tennis, I can match it with everyone regardless what surface it’s on.
“It’s about going out there, getting exposure to it, trying to get as many matches as possible. I feel like I’m learning every single match. Super excited. And the fact that we’re still here in the last few days is incredible.”
“It’s amazing for WTA tennis. I think the way that Amanda must have played, I didn’t see it today, but the way she must have played must have been incredible,” Barty said ahead of her first meeting against Anisimova.
“It’s clean slate for both of us and exciting opportunity for all four of us that are in the semis. It’s just an amazing situation to be in.
I have done a really good job of switching off this week and enjoying that quiet time, enjoying the other sports and interests that I have that are going on around the world at the moment to make sure it’s not always just about tennis, not always about me, always keeping contact with my family and keeping that very normal.” explained the No.8 seed.
“I think it’s just been a really relaxed, quiet tournament in my mind. I’m in a position now where I just get to enjoy the next few days.”
The semifinals are to be played on Friday in Paris
Ashleigh Barty (8) AUS vs Amanda Anisimova USA
Johanna Konta (26) GBR vs Marketa Vondrousova CZE