Ashleigh Barty will look to continue her astounding run of form on Thursday when she plays Sofia Kenin for a spot in the final of her home slam. The World No.1 has a lengthy lead in the rankings and could extend that past 3000 points if she wins the title.
Kenin was the winner of the WTA Most Improved Player in 2019 and has built on that with a run to her first slam semi final. Kenin is a tough counterpuncher who can make things difficult for the best of players but has been quite fortunate to have a draw that has seen her play none of the top players. She beat Ons Jabeur 6-4 6-4 to advance, holding tough after taking a break lead in both sets for the win. “I feel like all the match play I’ve had has helped me.” she said on her improvements.”Of course, I’m rising, so I’m trying to somehow keep my game stable, just play with stability, just play each match one match at a time.”
Barty faced her toughest test to date in the quarter finals, eventually seeing off Petra Kvitova in straight sets. The Czech remains dangerous and has the grand slam credentials but it was the French Open winner that had the best of it in the 7-6 6-2 win. “I love testing myself against Petra,” Barty said after the match. “She has this way of bringing out the very best in me. She came at me with all guns blazing. That first set could have gone either way. It was really important to try and get my nose ahead when I could. It was nice to save a set point and get a roll on early in the second set with a couple of quick breaks.”
“She has a great knack of controlling the court from the center of the court and being that first-strike player. It’s going to be important for me to try and nullify that if I can.” Barty said on what she needs to do to secure the victory against her less experienced opponent. This has the potential to go long with the pair well equipped for long rallies but the Australian has to be given the edge, especially with home advantage. Barty will seek to become the first home champion in Australia since Chris O’Neil in 1978 and should at least get her opportunity on Saturday.
Prediction – Ashleigh Barty in straight sets