Ash Barty surges into Miami Open final with more top-10 mastery

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·Sports Editor
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  • Ashleigh Barty
    Australian tennis player
  • Elina Svitolina
    Elina Svitolina
    Ukrainian female tennis player
  • Naomi Osaka
    Japanese tennis player
Ash Barty, pictured here in action against Elina Svitolina at the Miami Open.
Ash Barty was too good for Elina Svitolina in their Miami Open semi-final. Image: Getty

Ash Barty has moved one step closer to defending her Miami Open title, surging into the final with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Elina Svitolina.

The Australian star was always in control of the semi-final, breaking the Ukrainian World No.5's serve five times en route to the final.

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The win extends Barty's undefeated streak in Miami to 11 matches, which includes her 2019 title success when the tournament was last played.

The 2020 edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The World No.1 is now 13-3 in her past 16 meetings against fellow top-10 players.

She had gone more than 14 months without facing a top-10 player - mainly due to her staying home and away from the tour during the pandemic in 2020.

"It wasn't easy today, not by any means," Barty said after the battle with Svitolina. 

"I felt like I wanted to come out here and be aggressive, and I was able to execute it.

"Elina is an exceptional competitor. She'll never give you a free point no matter what the score is. 

"I know I have to bring my best and I was able to do that today."

On Wednesday, Barty was guaranteed of retaining the No.1 ranking when Naomi Osaka was bundled out in the semi-finals.

Ash Barty and Elina Svitolina, pictured here after their Miami Open semi-final.
Ash Barty and Elina Svitolina shake hands after their Miami Open semi-final. Image: AAP

Osaka had to win the title and have Barty not make it past the semi-finals to have any chance of taking the top spot.

But the Japanese star's 23-match winning streak was ended by Maria Sakkari the the quarter-finals.

The Greek star pulled off a stunning 6-0 6-4 win over the reigning Australian Open champion to reach the final four.

Barty's win and Osaka's exit also goes some way to silencing the critics that the Australian star isn't the true World No.1.

Her reign at the top will extend to 74 weeks at least, and though much of that time was spent sitting at home while COVID-19 suspended the tour, it is enough to move Barty to ninth all-time for most weeks at the top.

"I have so many good memories playing here," Barty said after beating Svitolina. 

"I'm very grateful to have another opportunity to play for the title."

Hurkacz upsets Tsitsipas in major boilover

On the men's side, Poland's Hubert Hurkacz earned his first semi-final berth in a top-level ATP event by rallying past No. 2-seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The 2-6 6-3 6-4 victory on Thursday has earned the No.26 seed a third-straight win when facing a top-five opponent.

It was only his second victory against the Greek in their eight meetings.

The upset further scrambled the draw. 

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer skipped the tournament, and No. 1-seeded Daniil Medvedev lost in the quarter-finals on Wednesday night to No. 7 Robert Bautista Agut.

In the last quarter-final on Thursday, unseeded American Sebastian Korda will play No. 4 Andrey Rublev.

Bautista Agut will face No. 21 Jannik Sinner in the first semi-final on Friday, and a first-time ATP Masters 1000 champion will be crowned on Sunday.

with AAP

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