Barty sends US Open warning with demolition of Azarenka in Cincinnati

Ash Barty has powered into the quarter-finals of the Cincinnati Open, finding it astoundingly easy to put away the usually teak-tough Victoria Azarenka 6-0, 6-2 in their third-round encounter.

Finding her form and her rhythm, and aided by an uncharacteristically flaky, error-strewn effort from her fellow two-time grand slam champion, Australia’s world number one pulverised her Belarusian friend and old doubles partner in just 70 minutes.

The Wimbledon champ won the first 10 games and looked for all the world as if she was going to condemn two-times Australian Open winner ‘Vika’ to the humiliation of a ‘double bagel’ 6-0, 6-0 result on Centre Court.

But the out-of-sorts world number 13, who was cursing at herself and at one point hurled down her racquet in disgust, was at least spared the indignity of the whitewash when she finally got on the board in the 11th game.

It was a brief stay of execution and, though she did win another service game and repelled two match points, Barty raced to victory, firing 25 winners as she set up a quarter-final with either Barbora Krejcikova or Garbine Muguruza.

“Vika has this way of bringing out the very best of me,” said Barty, who leads their career head-to-heads 3-1.

“I’ve enjoyed playing on the same side as her in doubles. We’ve had success in doubles, we’re great mates and have a lot of respect for one another. That means we always have very good battles.

“I knew Vika was going to be exceptionally tough and I felt like I played a great match throughout the whole thing.”

Against Azarenka, Barty was much improved from her second-round win over Heather Watson.(

Getty Images: Matthew Stockman


Indeed, the Queenslander had definitely moved up a gear from her hard-fought victory 24 hours earlier against Briton Heather Watson and is beginning to look in the mood to take a fifth title of her remarkable globetrotting year.

“I felt like I was able to control my service games quite well, and win a lot of free points on my first serve, which was key,” Barty said.

“Then I could build pressure on Vika’s serve. When I’m able to look after my own games, it gives me freedom to play more aggressively on her service games, and I felt I had a really good balance with that today.”


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