Ash Barty's unseen moment of pure class after Australian Open victory

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

Ash Barty has once again shown why she is so loved and admired among the tennis community.

A largely-unseen moment after Barty’s win over Petra Kvitova at the Australian Open on Tuesday perfectly epitomised her class and sportsmanship.

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After beating her good friend to advance to the semi-finals, Barty produced an act of class that not many other players would have.

As Kvitova was leaving the court to applause from the crowd at Rod Laver Arena, Barty stopped what she was doing and applauded as well.

It was only a small gesture but one we rarely see from a player for their vanquished opponent.

Ash Barty stopped what she was doing to applaud Petra Kvitova. (Photo by DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images)

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Embracing the pressure but shunning the spotlight, Barty has moved into lock-down mode in her bold bid to become the first home-grown women's Australian Open finalist in 40 years.

Already the first local woman since Wendy Turnbull in 1984 to make the last four at Melbourne Park, Barty knows the hype will reach fever pitch when she takes on American Sofia Kenin in Thursday's semi-finals.

But while aware of the growing hysteria, the world No.1 is keen to escape the limelight as much as possible before trying to emulate Turnbull's march to the title match in 1980.

"I'd prefer to just be sitting at home just living my quiet little life," the newly-crowned Young Australian of the Year said after withstanding a ferocious quarter-final challenge from Kvitova.

Barty had to fight off eight break points - and save one set point in the vital tiebreaker - in a fiercely-contested opening set on Rod Laver Arena.

Ash Barty and Petra Kvitova embraced after the match. (Photo by Recep Sakar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Having seized the momentum, the top seed took command in the second to prevail 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 in a rematch of their 2019 Open quarter-final.

Even the free-hitting Kvitova could only salute her brave opponent after throwing everything at an inspired Barty, only to come up second best.

"She's really proving she (is) deserving to be No.1)," said the outclassed dual Wimbledon champion.

"I knew that I had to bring my absolute best today against Petra. That first set was so crucial," Barty said after moving to within two wins of ending Australia's 42-year Open curse.

"She came at me with all guns blazing. That first set could have gone either way.

"It was really important to try and get my nose ahead when I could. It was nice to save a set point and get a roll on early in the second set with a couple of quick breaks.

"(But) you never have Petra until the last point is played. She's an unbelievable competitor. She keeps coming and coming."

with AAP