Ash Barty has maintained her blistering form at the Cincinnati Open, outplaying French Open winner Barbora Krejčíková to race into the semi-finals.
- Ash Barty powered to victory over Barbora Krejčíková in just 71 minutes
- Krejčíková is the world number 10 and reigning French Open champion
- Barty will take on Angelique Kerber in the semi-finals
On a scorching morning in Ohio, the two-times grand slam winner dismantled Krejčíková 6-2, 6-4 on Friday local time, before turning her thoughts to fellow Australians in lockdown back home.
The world number one, who’s growing in confidence and stature by the match as she homes in on a fifth title of the year, overcame some second-set resistance from Krejčíková before reeling off four straight games to seal victory in just 71 minutes.
Nobody on tour had been in hotter form than Krejčíková, who had won 25 of her previous 27 matches.
But Barty, who suffered a big letdown at the Tokyo Olympics, has seemingly now picked up where she left off at Wimbledon, with her all-court mastery seemingly irresistible.
Her win set up another semi-final against former world number one Angelique Kerber, who was Barty’s last-four victim on her run to the Wimbledon title.
The German got through on Friday when quarter-final opponent Petra Kvitova had to pull out with a stomach problem when 6-4, 3-3 down.
Asked about how she had coped with the extreme heat during her match, the first of the day, which began at 11:00am, Barty smiled.
“It was like a Brisbane summer day. The heat’s certainly not a problem for me,” she said.
She looked immaculately prepared in a match that was a delight for the purists, as both players showed off the outstanding variety in their games with chess-like probing.
Yet Krejčíková, who’s burst into the top-10, again found a rejuvenated Barty too much of a step-up, just as she had at Wimbledon where the Australian had won their last-16 match last month.
Again, the Queenslander’s wicked backhand slice and pinpoint returning made life too problematic for the Roland Garros winner.
Revelling in her current run of excellent form in the US, Barty was asked if there was any relief that she was away from lockdown-hit Australia.
“There is certainly not a relief or anything like that to not be in Australia, but we certainly feel for everyone back home at the moment.
“We certainly are keeping track of how things are going, particularly on the Eastern Seaboard where a lot of our friends and family are.
“I know Sydney is in the hurt locker at the moment, and Melbourne is struggling, as well, and Brisbane has been teetering on the edge a little bit.
“We are sending only good vibes back home to hope that these lockdowns are then done for the right reasons and everything can finish up and it doesn’t linger on too long. We’re sending our best to everyone back home.”