Ashleigh Barty reached her first-ever Australian Open final after a 6-1, 6-3 win over Madison Keys in the semi-finals. The world no. 1 played lights out tennis once again to close the proceedings in just 62 minutes.
Entering into the semis, while Barty had been at her dominant best, Keys, too, had played solidly, blitzing winners off both her wings. However, the American’s shot-making came up short against Barty, who used her slice to keep the points low and draw out the errors from her opponent. In the first set alone, Keys had 14 unforced errors while Barty had a mere four.
Australian Open: Ashleigh Barty keeps the home flag flying
The opening set began on an ominous note for Keys who was broken right in the first game. She held her ground and her serve in the third game of the set and as it would turn out, it was the only time she did so. In the end, the top seed needed just 26 minutes to pocket the set – on Keys’ serve in the seventh game.
At the start of the second set, it was Barty’s serve that came under pressure and she started to mistime her shots, hitting more errors in the process. In the fifth game of the set, Barty faced a break point after hitting a forced error off her forehand. A forehand winner from Barty saved the break point while two errors off Keys’ forehand helped her maintain her lead in the set and in the match. In the following game, it was Barty’s turn to break Keys’ serve and she held onto that advantage, eventually serving out the match in the ninth game of the set.
Of the two players, it was Keys who put more of her first serves in – 71% to Barty’s 61%. However, while Barty won 86% of her first-serve points, Keys could only manage to win 49%. Barty had 20 winners to Keys’ eight and 13 unforced errors to the latter’s 24.
In reaching the Australian Open final, Ashleigh Barty became the first Australian woman since Wendy Turnbull in 1980 to make it this far at the Major. Barty will also be bidding to become the first Australian woman to win the Slam since Chris O’Neil in 1978.