January 26, 2020
Ashleigh Barty gained sweet revenge for her Wimbledon defeat to Alison Riske.
Now she is out to avenge her quarter-final reverse at the hands of Petra Kvitova this time last year.
Barty didn’t play like a world number one against American Riske, as she struggled to cope with the dramatic wind variations from one end to the other.
But she believed in herself enough to get the job done and scraped through 6-3, 1-6, 6-4.
The home favourite had lost both her matches to Riske in the past. She had her own expression for third-time lucky.
‘Third-time charm! I just had to hang in there and give myself a chance,’ Barty said after a distinctly-shaky middle set.
But she will have to play much better to beat Kvitova.
The powerful Czech also won in three sets. But she was somewhat more convincing as she saw off Maria Sakkari 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 6-2.
Though Barty has won her recent clashes against Kvitova, she knows she faces a huge challenge in a couple of days.
She admitted: ‘I love Petra but I hope she doesn’t break my heart. It’s amazing to be in the quarter-finals again.’
Barty doesn’t hugely enjoy superstardom. Being named Young Australian of the Year may have added to the pressure she is feeling.
She said of the accolade: ‘It was a surprise. It is extremely humbling. I’m just trying to be the authentic me, the best version of me every single day.’
But what she has forgotten to do of late, it appears, is to really enjoy herself on the tennis court.
There will be no room for tightness or nerves against Kvitova.
Aggression and fun will be the essential ingredients if Barty is to rediscover her best form.
Otherwise Petra might well break Ashleigh’s heart, as she fears.
Because so far in this Australian Open women’s singles tournament, perhaps only Garbine Muguruza has looked more impressive.
Coco Gauff was of course the talk of the town but came unstuck against Sofia Kenin, who triumphed 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-0.
The fifteen-year-old had trouble with her serve and hit too long in her desperation to continue her extraordinary run.
But she will swallow the bagel and learn from the experience.
Coco has every reason to be proud of another amazing Grand Slam adventure. We can’t wait to get behind her again at Wimbeldon 2020!