Continuing her ruthless march, top seed Ashleigh Barty beat No 21 seed Jessica Pegula in the quarterfinals to reach the 2022 Australian Open semi-final, here on Tuesday.
The 25-year old Barty beat Pegula 6-2, 6-0 in just 63 minutes at Rod Laver Arena. She has lost just 17 games in five matches to reach her fourth Grand Slam semi-final, and second at her home major.
The world No 1 is bidding to become the first Australian woman to lift the trophy in Melbourne since Chris O’Neil in 1978. Having lifted her third career title on home soil in Adelaide three weeks ago, Barty is now on a nine-match winning streak. She will now face Madison Keys.
A scratchy start to the match from both players saw an error-strewn opening few games. But while Barty committed 16 unforced errors to eight winners in the first set, she nonetheless gained immediate control with her superior focus on big points.
On the other hand, Pegula found only two winners to 14 unforced errors in the first set, and was unable to take advantage of what proved to be a brief opportunity.
Barty broke from 40-0 down in the first game, and held for a 3-1 lead after Pegula netted a second serve return on a breakpoint. Thereafter, Barty found her groove and motored through the remainder of the match with a streak of nine consecutive games. She would lose only six more points on serve.
In the second half of the first set and throughout a supreme second set, Barty was in glorious form. She carved up the court with short backhand slices to set herself up for a winning pass, she found a superb lob to turn defence into offense to seal the first break of set two, and she was a step ahead of Pegula in every extended rally.
Barty finished the second set with nine winners and six unforced errors, while Pegula added another 12 unforced errors to only five more winners.
“I’m just having fun, to be honest. I’m having fun trying to problem-solve out on the court, and each and every opponent has been different. Each and every opponent has presented me with a different challenge and forced me to use another tool in my toolbox,” said Barty.
“I have been able to execute, which is sometimes important – you can have all the right ideas but you need to be able to do it under the pump. I’ve been able to do that this week, which has been really exciting,” she added.