The much anticipated clash between Ashleigh Barty and Serena Williams failed to materialise but it should still be a fascinating matchup as the Australian takes on Sofia Kenin instead. Barty is a legitimate contender for both the singles and doubles in Paris as her team with Victoria Azarenka remains one of the favourites also.
Barty is the second highest ranked player left in the draw and has the opportunity to move up as high as No.2 in the rankings depending on the rest of her tournament. She will already be at a career high after getting this far, picking up three comfortable wins on her way to the fourth round. Barty can usually be counted on to deliver against opponents seen as below her level, very rarely being on the wrong end of shock results. She hit 20 winners in her victory over Andrea Petkovic, coming out on top 6-3 6-1. “When I’ve been able to execute my game, I’ve been able to win some matches in business-like fashion, but they’re certainly not easy matches, that’s for sure,” Barty stated. “I feel like I’m playing well and being able to execute to make the score lines look a little easier than the match actually is.”
Kenin dealt with the pressure of facing the greatest ever and a hostile French crowd to move on, outplaying Serena Williams for large parts of her 6-2 7-5 win over her fellow American. Kenin was fearless throughout and held her nerve against the inevitable Serena comeback in the middle of the second set. “Serena is such a tough player,” Kenin said afterwards. “I’m still trying to process what just happened. I knew before the match, I was ready to go. I was there to win a match. Of course she’s a true champion and an inspiration and she’s done amazing things for American tennis. I’m just really happy with this win. I played really well, and I’m just excited for my next match.”
Kenin will hope to avoid the often occuring hangover after a big win but she is still going to have her work cut out against a very strong opponent. Barty is already 2-0 in the head to head, winning both matches in straight sets. “She’s very crafty,” Kenin said. “It’s not going to be an easy match. I’m just going to go out there and leave everything out, play my best game, and I think if I play well, good things can happen, and I believe in myself.”
Prediction – Ashleigh Barty in straight sets