BARTY BLITZES PEGULA TO REACH AO SEMIS


Photograph: Getty Images

World No. 1 Ash Barty is through to the Australian Open semifinals, requiring just 63 minutes to demolish American 21st seed Jessica Pegula 6-2, 6-0 on Rod Laver Arena.


"It's always nice to be at the business end of a Grand Slam and to give yourself the opportunity to play for some of the biggest titles. It was a great match tonight and looking forward to play Maddie [Keys] in a couple of days," Barty said in her post-match press conference.


The scoreline, which included a bagel would suggest a comprehensive thrashing, but that's not how Barty felt the match panned out on court.


"Jess made me work very hard and I think the scoreline definitely wasn't an indication of how the match felt. All in all I knew I had to play my very best tennis tonight to match up with Jess and put her under the pump. I was able to serve well, find plenty of forehands, and just try and control the court. I was just trying to be assertive and be aggressive when I could and run and use the chisel and kind of defend when I had to," Barty explained.


The Aussie's undefeated form as of yet in 2022 has been so impressive that it prompted commentator Jim Courier to compare her signature slice backhand to that of Swiss Maestro Roger Federer's.


"That's very kind from Jim [Courier]. I think everyone's shots are unique. I think obviously Roger has one of the most exceptional slice backhands in the game. Mine's a long way off that. Absolutely, no stretch of the imagination we are even on the same page at all," Barty stated.


"But I love to use my slice, I love to get creative with it, to use it offensively and defensively. Over my career I've learnt it is a weapon for me. I try and use it when I have to. Sometimes I try and use it when it's my choice and I can be really, really aggressive with it. But being able to use it with variety and have different options has been a massive part of my game through this last couple of years of my career."


Barty remains the only woman still alive in the main draw to have not dropped a set. If she is to reach her maiden Australian Open final and possibly keep that stat alive, she will need to bring her A-game to the court once again when she comes up against hard-hitting American Madison Keys in the semifinals on Thursday night.


"Maddie is an exceptional athlete, she has a great serve, great first strike off the return and off her first ball after her serve. A lot of the time it's about trying to put her in an uncomfortable position, try and get her off-balance, because if she controls the center of the court the match is on her racquet," Barty explained.


"I need to be able to find a balance, problem solve my way through it, try and work out a way to nullify her strengths and bring it back to my patterns if I can, and understand it's not always in my control, we accept that, move on, go again to the next point.


I think it's about being really clear in that process and just trying to do the best we can each and every point."