AUSTRALIA

Barty advances to last eight at Australian Open

Ash Barty has marched into the Australian Open quarterfinals for the fourth straight year after dispensing of American Amanda Anisimova in straight sets.

Despite conceding her first service break of the tournament, Barty stepped up when required to complete a 6-4, 6-3 triumph on Rod Laver Arena.

The world number one will play another American, 21st seed Jessica Pegula, in the quarterfinals as she continues her quest to become the first Australian to win the women’s singles title in 44 years.

Barty lost in the quarterfinals last year and in 2019, while she was a semifinalist in 2020.

Pegula reached the last eight for the second consecutive year after defeating Greek fifth seed Maria Sakkari 7-6 (7-0), 6-3 earlier on Sunday.

Barty won her only previous match against Pegula on her way to winning the 2019 French Open championship.

She said she would not treat Pegula lightly on Tuesday.

“Jess is able to control the baseline. She’s able to take time away from you, take balls particularly off her backhand,” Barty told her post-match media conference.

“She loves these courts, she made a quarter (quarterfinal) here last year. The last couple years her progression and her confidence with the way that she plays has gone and absolutely skyrocketed. She’s a great competitor.

“Again, one of her best attributes is the fact that she can compete point in, point out, and irrelevant of the score she’s able to turn up time and time again.

Barty had barely been troubled in her opening three matches at Melbourne Park, but Anisimova promised to be a difficult match-up.

Anisimova belied her current ranking of 60 when she eliminated defending champion Naomi Osaka from the tournament in the third round.

Barty is through to the quarterfinals for the fourth consecutive year.(Getty Images: Cameron Spencer)

Barty was also mindful of the challenge she faced from Anisimova when she needed three sets to defeat her during her successful French Open campaign.

Both Barty and Anisimova saved break points early in the first set, but the Australian turned up the pressure in the fifth game.

A subtle backhand volley at the net gave her two break points on the Anisimova serve and the crowd could sense Barty was going in for the kill.

Against Osaka, Anisimova showed she had the ability to dig herself out of a hole with her serve. With her back to the wall against Barty in the first set, she eventually recovered to hold.

But the reigning Wimbledon champion applied the heat again in Anisimova’s next service game and this time came away with the reward. From three break points, two were saved, but Barty won the game when Anisimova went long with a forehand return.

She later served for the set at 5-4, doing so confidently to love.

Barty, however, found herself on the back foot early in the second set when she dropped serve.

More than once during the second game, she found herself poorly positioned on the baseline, allowing Anisimova to capitalise with forehands to the open court.

Leading 2-0 with a break, Anisimova’s spirits had appeared to lift, but her mood soon crashed when Barty immediately broke back.

She then levelled the set at 2-2, despite facing a break point, clinching the fourth game with a curling forehand down the line.

The pivotal moment of the second set struck in the seventh game. Anisimova seemed to be on the verge of holding when she was 40-15 up, but she lost the next four points to hand over another break to Barty.

Barty held for a 5-3 lead and then broke for a third time in the set to seal victory in an hour and 14 minutes.

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