Ashleigh Barty: This is unreal

28 January,2022 06:58 AM IST |  Melbourne  |  AFP

World No.1 Barty ecstatic after crushing American Keys 6-1, 6-3 to reach first home Grand Slam final; sets up title showdown with 27th-seed Collins

Ashleigh Barty celebrates her win over Madison Keys in the semi-final of the Australian Open in Melbourne yesterday. Pic/AFP



A ruthless Ashleigh Barty swept into her first Australian Open final on Thursday with the top seed outgunning a resurgent Madison Keys in a clinical, straight-sets demolition.

The World No.1 overwhelmed the 51st ranked American 6-1, 6-3 in just 62 minutes to set up showdown against American 27th seed Danielle Collins.

Collins overpowered the Polish seventh seed and former French Open champion Iga Swiatek 6-4, 6-1 on Rod Laver Arena to reach her first Grand Slam decider.

Danielle Collins. Pic/AFP

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.

She is also looking to add to her 2020 French Open and 2021 Wimbledon 2021 titles, with the top seed on an ominous 10-match win streak to start the year. "It's unreal. Honestly, it's just incredible. I'm just happy I get to play my best tennis here," said Barty, who is assured of retaining her WorldNo.1 ranking even if she loses the final.

"The ball was a little slower tonight, heavier off the strings. I just tried to run and adapt, make as many balls as I could and keep Maddie under the pump on her serve because she has the ability to really take it away from you quickly."

‘Amazing human being'

Barty paid tribute to Keys, a former Top-10 player who is on the rise again after difficult couple of years. "It's just so nice to see her back where she belongs," said Barty. "She's an amazing human being."

Barty has been unassailable in Melbourne, dropping her serve just once through six matches and is yet to drop a set. And the top seed, who played cricket with her team on Wednesday to relax, was once more in full command of her game with an attacking forehand and lethal backhand slice.

Swiatek overwhelmed

Meanwhile, Swiatek said she came up against the fastest balls she has ever faced after being blown off court by the raw power of Collins to miss out on an Australian Open final on Thursday. The Polish seventh seed was overwhelmed by the American 6-4, 6-1 in the Last 4 and said it was tough to know how to deal with her relentless shot-making.

"I was prepared for her playing an aggressive game, but I think that was the fastest ball I have ever played against in a match," Swiatek said. "For sure in practices I have hit maybe the same speed, but in matches it's different because players they don't want to, you know, take that much risk. But it seemed for her that it wasn't even risky because she was playing it with control. So I am impressed and huge respect to her because she's playing a great game."

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