'What life is all about': Ash Barty's 'humble' take on Australian Open heartbreak

Ash Barty said she found some perspective after her heartbreaking Australian Open loss in the semi-final after a surprise visitor in the press conference.

American Sofia Kenin shattered Barty's Australian Open dream with a shock straight-sets semi-final win over the big home hope.

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Kenin defied searing heat and her world No.15 ranking to upset the top seed 7-6 (8-6), 7-5 at Rod Laver Arena on Thursday.

But as Australia waited to hear from a surely devastated Barty, the Aussie appeared in the press conference with her 12-week old niece.

Ash Barty smiling with her niece at the Australian Open semi-final press conference.
Ash Barty with her neice Olivia speaks to the media at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Rod Laver Arena. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

"This is what life's all about,” Barty told reporters.

“This is amazing.”

The response and image of Barty holding her niece with a smile once again showed why Australians have fallen for the inspirational sportswoman.

Barty’s hopes shattered

A hot favourite to become the first Australian woman since Wendy Turnbull 40 years ago to make an Open final, the world No.1's defeat left the packed crowd on Rod Laver Arena shellshocked.

Even Kenin, who lost to Barty in the French Open fourth round last year, was pinching herself in the aftermath.

"Honestly, I'm so speechless. I honestly can't believe this. I've dreamed about this moment since I was five years old," said the Moscow-born 14th seed.

"I'm so speechless, thankful. I have worked so hard to be here. Thanks to my dad and everyone back home."

Ash Barty lost in the Australian Open semi-final to Sofia Kenin. (Getty Images)
Ash Barty lost in the Australian Open semi-final to Sofia Kenin. (Getty Images)

Barty dominated much of the opening set, conceding only four points in her first five service games.

But she paid the price for not cashing in on three break-point chances in the sixth game, as Kenin snatched the set in the breaker.

A winner of a tour-best 13 matches from a set down last year, Barty looked to be mounting a signature comeback when she charged to a 3-1 lead in the second set.

But, in temperatures nudging towards 40 degrees in Melbourne, the top seed crumbled trying to level the match up as Kenin reeled off four straight games from 3-5 down to seal victory after one hour and 45 minutes.

"I knew I needed to find a way to win. Thank you so much," Kenin told the crowd.

"This wasn't an easy one. I'm so grateful and thank you for this moment."