Ash Barty stormed through her fourth-round match against Petra Kvitova at the Australian Open in straight sets, and in doing so the world no.1 did something she’d never actually done before.
Kvitova was outclassed in a first set tiebreak before Barty stormed through the second set for a 7-6, 6-2 victory over the 7th seeded Czech player.
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Incredibly, as tennis writer Ben Rothenberg pointed out on Twitter, the win marked the first time Barty had defeated an opponent ranked in the top 10 at a Grand Slam.
Not only was it her first Slam win over a top-10 opponent, having gone 0-5 in similar games before Tuesday, it was the first time she’d faced a top 10 player in a Slam since entering the top 10 herself.
Barty first entered the top 10 in 2019, before eventually becoming the world no.1 after winning the French Open.
It wasn’t the only notable stat from Barty’s victory - by progressing to the semi-final at her home Grand Slam, she became the first Australian woman to do so since Wendy Turnbull in 1986.
Turnbull was the last Australian woman to make it to the final, which she did that same year.
That win over #7 Kvitova was, implausibly, #1 Ash Barty's first career win over a top-10 opponent at a Slam (previously 0-5).
Also first time she'd faced a top-10er at a Slam since becoming a top-10er herself. #AusOpen
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 28, 2020
World No.1 Ashleigh Barty is the 1st 🇦🇺woman to reach an #AusOpen semifinal since Wendy Turnbull in 1984, who was also the most recent finalist in 1980.
The last Aussie champion was Chris O’Neil in 1978.
Barty defeats Kvitova 76(6) 62 and faces Kenin in the semis. pic.twitter.com/6f3Q83mRVE
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) January 28, 2020
Barty to face 14th seed Sofia Kenin in semi-final
Barty will play American 14th seed Sofia Kenin on Thursday for a spot in Saturday night's title decider.
"It's been absolutely incredible. I knew that I had to bring my absolute best today against Petra. That first set was so crucial," Barty said.
"I just wanted to try to make the most of it and it was really good to get a quick start in the second."
Her milestone 250th tour-level victory, and 100th on hard courts, vaulted the 23-year-old Barty to within one tantalising win of following Turnbull again as the first Australian women's finalist in Melbourne since 1980.
Barty has won four of her five clashes with Kenin, including their fourth-round showdown last year in Paris.
"She's developed a lot over the last 12, 18 months. She's a great ball striker who wants to be inside the court taking the ball either way," Barty said.
"It's about me getting my running shoes on, bringing variety and trying to bring the match on my terms as much as possible."