'No doubt': Ash Barty's ominous warning to US Open rivals

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·Sports Reporter
·5-min read
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Ash Barty defeated Barbora Krejcikova at the Cincinnati Open.
Ash Barty has extended her record against opponents ranked in the world's top 20 to 14-1 with a win over world No.10 Barbora Krejcikova. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Ash Barty has continued her stranglehold on the number one rank in women's tennis with a crushing straight-sets victory over Barbora Krejcikova at the Cincinnati Open.

Krejcikova, who won the French Open earlier this year, was no match for Barty in the 6-2 6-4 dismantling, which improved her record against top-20 opponents this year to 14-1.

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The win also helped Barty draw level with world No.10 Krejcikova with 38 wins for the year, the two women arguably the most consistent on the tour.

Krejcikova had won 25 of her previous 27 matches heading into her showdown with Barty, with the Aussie champion now having handed the Czech two of her three losses this season.

After many questioned Barty's extended run atop the women's rankings throughout 2020 after she chose not to travel internationally to compete, her run in 2021 seems to have silenced the doubters.

Krejcikova is the second grand slam winner Barty has defeated in as many matches, having sent Victoria Azarenka packing in the previous round.

After she burst into the top-10, the Czech star again found a rejuvenated Barty too much of a step-up, just as she had at Wimbledon where the Australian had won their last-16 match last month.

Again, the Queenslander's wicked backhand slice and pinpoint returning made life too problematic for the Roland Garros winner as she was broken twice in the opening set and then suffered again in the second once Barty found her first serve.

Fans on social media continued to be impressed by Barty's serious turn of form, which followed perhaps her only disappointment of the season at the Tokyo Olympics.

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Asked about how she'd coped with the extreme heat during her match, the first of the day, which began at 11am, Barty smiled: "It was like a Brisbane summer day! The heat's certainly not a problem for me.

"It's nice to play the first match. You know when your start time is, which is not very regular in the tennis world."

She looked immaculately prepared in a match which was a delight for the purists, as both players both showed off the outstanding variety in their attractive games with chess-like probing.

Ash Barty on fire ahead of US Open challenge

Now revelling in her current run of excellent form in the US, Barty was asked afterwards if there was any relief that she was away from lockdown-hit Australia.

"I'd be home in a heartbeat, any chance. I love being at home. There is certainly not a relief or anything like that to not be in Australia, but we certainly feel for everyone back home at the moment," she said.

"We certainly are keeping track of how things are going, particularly on the Eastern Seaboard where a lot of our friends and family are.

"I know Sydney is in the hurt locker at the moment, and Melbourne is struggling, as well, and Brisbane has been teetering on the edge a little bit.

"We are sending only good vibes back home to hope that these lockdowns are then done for the right reasons and everything can finish up and it doesn't linger on too long. We're sending our best to everyone back home."

Earlier in the Cincinnati Open, Barty crushed the usually teak-tough Victoria Azarenka 6-0 6-2 in their third-round encounter on Thursday.

Finding her form and rhythm and aided by an uncharacteristically error-strewn effort from her fellow two-time grand slam champion, Barty pulverised her Belarusian friend and old doubles partner in just 70 minutes.

After the match had been delayed by rain for an hour, the Wimbledon champ reeled off the first 10 games and looked set to condemn the double Australian Open winner to a centre court 'double-bagel'.

But the out of sorts world No.13, who berated herself and at one stage hurled her racquet, was at least spared the indignity of that whitewash as she finally got on the board in the 11th game.

With AAP

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