MELBOURNE, Australia – It’s all about choice, this game of tennis and this game of life.
Down the line or the intersection? Rip or chip? Stay at home or hit the road in search of points and glory?
The coronavirus pandemic has broken old stereotypes and created new problems that have made some choices more complicated, but Ashleigh Barty is on a rampage, as is anyone who’s played with her in Australia. This open can all confirm.
Madison Keys was the latest to swing out onto the field and empty as Barty continued to throw pitches and change tactics that Keys couldn’t handle. Barty won the first set of Thursday night’s semi-final in 26 minutes and won the match in just over an hour, 6-1, 6-3.
She is the first Australian since Wendy Turnbull in 1980 to reach the women’s singles final at the Australian Open.
“Honestly, it was unbelievable,” Barty said. “I love this tournament. I love coming here and playing in Australia. As Australians, we are particularly spoiled. We are a Grand Slam nation and are played at home in our backyard. ”
“Now I have a chance to play for a title,” she added.
She will face the winner of the second semi-final between Danielle Collins of the United States and Iga Swiatek of Poland. But whoever Barty has to face at this late stage, she’s going to be a favorite based on her coolness and precision when under pressure over the past 11 days.
She still hadn’t come close to dropping a set, and Keys met her at the net bar after Thursday’s show with a smile on her face as if to say, “You’re in the area, Ash, enjoy. it.”
Tennis may no longer mean much to Australia, as it did in the days of Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong Cawley. But a Barty win in Australia is sure to be a cultural hit. The 25-year-old from Brisbane is a particularly well-known figure here with her calm personality and deep inland roots: she is part of Indigenous heritage.
Coming in at number 1, she won her first Grand Slam singles title at Extended Solution 2019 and she’s next at Wimbledon last yearprevailed in a moody final with Karolina Pliskova turning complicated before she won in three sets.
But there have been no thrilling bouts or protracted challenges to date in Melbourne, where she could become the first Australian to win the singles title since Chris O’Neil in 1978.
O’Neil has won and broken out of the top 100: one of the biggest surprise Grand Slam champions in tennis’ long history. Barty is in a very different position as the highest ranked player in the game and the center of attention in her country every time she competes.
But after deciding to cut her season short in 2021 and return home to Australia to recover from the US Open, where she has been upset in the third round, she has started the 2022 season fresh, focused and full of goals. She’s dropped just 21 in six and is striking a good balance between dexterity and power.
Next challenge: her first Australian Open singles final on Saturday night in prime time at Rod Laver Arena. Is she ready?
“Certainly,” she said after steaming the Unsealed Keys. “Let’s do it.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/27/sports/tennis/ashleigh-barty-australian-open.html Ashleigh Barty Cruise to the Women’s Singles Final at the Australian Open