Australia’s Ash Barty will once again go into the Australian Open as world no. 1. The pressure will be immense.
The Australian will be looking to do what no Aussie has done for a long period of time. She will be desperately wanting to claim the title and become the first homegrown champion of the Australian Open women’s title since Chris O’Neil in 1978.
Barty has gone close the past two years, Sofia Kenin knocking her out at the semifinal stage before winning the title in 2020. Karolina Muchova taking out Barty in the quarters last year.
The focus is now on the Australian Open title.
Barty has had a good week in Adelaide. Coco Gauff pushed her hard in Barty’s first match back, a round two affair.
Next, it was Kenin, Barty easily swept her aside.
Tonight Barty faced another Grand Slam champion, this time the 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek. The Pole is currently ranked at no. 9 after reaching a career-high of no. 4 back in September 2021.
The match was close in the early stage before Barty got a key break to bust open the set, another followed and the Australian took the opening set 6-2.
The second set saw just one break of serve, again it was Barty. She had to save one break point on the way to closing out the match 6-2, 6-4.
“Today I felt like I was probably able to look after my service games really well,” she said afterwards. “I felt like on Iga’s service games I was able to get into most of them, which is important when you’re playing someone who can dominate with that first ball and first strike. I felt like I was able to build pressure over time, making her play a lot of balls on her service games, not giving her too many cheapies.
“I think all in all I was able to stay in most games. I didn’t get blown away with too many runs of two, three, four points in a row, which was a nice improvement from the last couple matches.
“Obviously with Iga, she has the ability to take the court away from you and take positioning away. As soon as I had an opportunity and a sniff, I needed to be able to take it, take the initiative.
“I felt I had a good balance tonight of being able to run and move and neutralise. As soon as I was able to get a little bit of time on the ball, I was able to create with the forehand, which is a good thing. It was what we were after tonight. I was able to do it pretty well.”
Barty faces (7) Elena Rybakina (KAZ) in the final and will also back that up with doubles duty.