MELBOURNE: A ruthless Ashleigh Barty swept into her first Australian Open final on Thursday with a clinical, straight-sets demolition of Madison Keys to set-up a title match with the hard-hitting...
MELBOURNE: A ruthless Ashleigh Barty swept into her first Australian Open final on Thursday with a clinical, straight-sets demolition of Madison Keys to set-up a title match with the hard-hitting Danielle Collins.
The world number one overwhelmed 51st-ranked Keys 6-1, 6-3 in just 62 minutes with another American awaiting after the all-business Collins crushed Polish seventh seed Iga Swiatek 6-4, 6-1.
Barty is the first Australian woman into the decider of her home Grand Slam since Wendy Turnbull in 1980 and is aiming to become the first winner since Chris O’Neil two years earlier.
But the tenacious Collins stands in her way on Saturday with the 28-year-old enjoying a second coming after surgery last year for endometriosis.
Nine months on and she has 32-7 win-loss record, capturing her maiden WTA singles titles last year in Palermo then San Jose.
After making the semi-finals at Melbourne in 2019, she is now in a first Slam final and will break into the top 10 for the first time to cap a remarkable comeback.
“To play against the number one player in the world in her home country, it’s going to be spectacular,” said Collins of the final.
“I couldn’t be happier. It’s been such a journey, so many years of hard work.”
Barty, though, has been rampant so far, dropping serve just once through six matches and is yet to drop a set as she powered through the top half of the women’s draw.
She is also looking to add to her 2019 French Open and 2021 Wimbledon titles and is on a 10-match win streak to start the year.
“To be in the finals of your home Grand Slam is what a lot of Aussie players dream of. Yeah, it’s going to be an incredible experience come Saturday,” said Barty.