Dhe spectators in the Rod Laver Arena rose from their seats, Ashleigh Barty beamed: Barty is the first Australian tennis player in 44 years to win the Australian Open on Saturday. With their superior 6: 1, 6: 3 against the former US Open finalist Madison Keys from the USA, the top seed made it into the final in Melbourne on Thursday. There, the two-time Grand Slam tournament winner will definitely be the favorite – and as the first Australian finalist since Wendy Turnbull in 1980, she can crown her fantastic two weeks with an emotional triumph. “It’s unreal. It’s incredible. I’m just happy,” Barty said in the winner’s interview while still on the pitch.
As number one in the world, she rushes through the tournament. In now six matches, Barty did not give a sentence. And there is a lot to be said for her success in the final: Because she meets the American outsider Danielle Collins. The number 30 in the world rankings won on Thursday in Melbourne in the second semi-final against the Polish top ten player Iga Swiatek 6: 4, 6: 1. The last Australian tournament winner was Chris O’Neil in 1978.
Due to the long dry spell, the expectations of the Australian fans are on their narrow shoulders, but Barty seems to be up to the burden. “I’ve grown as a person, I’ve grown as a player,” she said in the Melbourne days. “I feel like I’m a more complete tennis player. I absolutely love playing here. It was a lot of fun and hopefully there’s still some left.”
Misfit Keys makes too many mistakes
The crowd at the Rod Laver Arena saw a one-sided game. The spectators admire her “Ash” for her ingenious athleticism, her versatile talent with the ball and for her elegant as well as variable game. With her uncomfortable and flat backhand slice, Barty also annoyed Keys from the start and made it difficult for her to recall her powerful game. Everything quickly pointed to an express victory.
Barty took the service games from her opponent to 1:0 and 4:1. The unseeded Keys could not show that she was actually rightly entered this semi-final and allowed herself too many mistakes. With a double fault, she gave Barty the first set ball, with an unattainable forehand return and the third break, the favorite secured set one.
The 25-year-old from the Australian state of Queensland is only 1.66 meters tall and still serves very effectively. Her serve didn’t come off particularly well in this semi-final, but she had far fewer problems on her own service. At 2: 2 in the second set, however, she also faced a breakball, but bravely fended it off with a net attack and stayed ahead. Shortly thereafter, the world number one got the break to 4: 2. It was the preliminary decision.
Barty has already gained experience with historic triumphs. In 2019, she became Australia’s first French Open champion in 46 years. About six months ago she was celebrated as Australia’s first Wimbledon winner since 1980. But a triumph in a home grand slam after the years with your tennis break, with the change of sport, your comeback and time off during the corona pandemic would have another dimension. Two years ago, Barty finished in the semifinals, last year in the quarterfinals. Now one more win is missing.
Four Australians in men’s doubles final
Crowd favorites Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis continue to cause a sensation in doubles and have the sensational coup close in sight. The two Australian wildcard starters defeated the top doubles Marcel Granollers/Horacio Zeballos (Spain/Argentina) 7: 6 (7: 4), 6: 4 and are surprisingly in the final in Melbourne.
There the first all-Australian final at the home Grand Slam since 1980 will take place. Kyrgios and Kokkinakis, who provide great entertainment with their emotional nature and have become a highlight of the tournament, will meet Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell on Saturday. Australian tennis legend Rod Laver immediately sent congratulations to the successful compatriots via Twitter.
In the quarter-finals, Kyrgios and Kokkinakis eliminated the German doubles specialist Tim Puetz (Frankfurt/Main) and his New Zealand partner Michael Venus, before they defeated the tournament favorites Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (Croatia). The wild and provocative nature of Kyrgios in particular was not only well received by Pütz, he called his opponents’ aping “simply unsportsmanlike”.
The headstrong Kyrgios thinks he is on a mission. The 26-year-old from Canberra, also referred to as the bad boy of tennis, wants to make his compatriots happy and entertained after the enormous hardships caused by Corona. The arenas resemble a cauldron in his matches with Kokkinakis.
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