Australia

Ash Barty sails into Cincinnati final


Ash Barty is again looking every inch the world’s best player after successfully repelling a familiar battling effort from former world number one Angelique Kerber to power into the final of the Cincinnati Open. 

The Australian overcame a blip in concentration early in the second set to recover her form in another early start on Saturday in Ohio and then roared to a 6-2, 7-5 victory in just under an hour and a quarter.

“I feel like I’m playing well at the moment,” she said.

“We have been able to execute game plans well. I feel like I’m moving well, and I’ve got control of the ball. That’s all I can ask of myself.”

In a reprise of their Wimbledon semi-final last month, when Barty also came out on top in straight sets, the Queenslander soon seemed to have a measure of control in this sixth meeting with 33-year-old Kerber as she raced through the first set in 27 minutes.

She had reeled off six straight games when Germany’s three-time grand slam winner, who had begun to seem deflated, showed her steel and finally took advantage of a seeming dip in Barty’s form and concentration levels to break her twice.

“It’s never, ever a walk in the park against Angie,” Barty said.

“She’s an exceptional competitor and I think early in that second set she lifted and went into another gear and it took me a few games to go with her.

“In the two games I got broken, she just saw too many second serves and was able to be assertive.

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Australia’s reigning Wimbledon champion, though, regained her equilibrium and struck for her crucial fifth break of serve in the 12th game to make it into her sixth final of the season without dropping a set all week.

“I’m really happy to get through,” Barty said.

The Aussie will now shoot for a fifth title of what she calls her “grand adventure” of a season against Swiss world number 76 Jil Teichmann, who continued her exceptional tournament run with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over world number four, Wimbledon finalist Karolína Plíšková.

Barty’s form, after the disappointment of her first round defeat at the Tokyo Olympics, has resembled her fairly clinical domination at Wimbledon as she hammered another 29 winners and 12 aces against Kerber.

She’s now won 15 of her last 16 tour matches and this was her 39th WTA win this year — a tour-leading figure.

“She [Barty] has so much confidence right now,” Kerber said.

“She’s just playing really, like, tricky, as well. She knows where to put the ball and how to play in the moments where it’s really important. You know, that’s why she’s where she is.”

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AAP/ABC


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