Ashleigh Barty crushes Simona Halep, Australian Open hype, Sydney International


The Grand Slam hype will hit fever pitch for Australia’s top ranked player Ashleigh Barty after a stunning victory over World number one Simona Halep at the Sydney International.

Barty, ranked World no. 15, stunned the world’s best player with a 6-4 6-4 win in the round of 16.

The win sees the 22-year-old Queenslander set incredibly high expectations for the Australian Open, which starts in just five days in Melbourne.

There was already plenty of talk Barty could be the first further raised expectations that the 22-year-old could become the first local to win the women’s Open singles crown since Chris O’Neill in 1978.

“I certainly fear no one and I feel like I can go out there and match it with the world’s best,” Barty said.

“I think it’s (beating the world No.1) all blown out a little bit. For me, it’s another tennis player across the court.

“Yeah, I completely respect Simona. She’s done amazing things in this sport.

“(But) it’s about going out there and just trying to play the person on the other side of the net and not their reputation.”

Barty lost twice to Halep last August and said she was glad for a slice of revenge.

“I finally learnt my lesson,” a beaming Barty said.

“She gave me a belting in Montreal. I learnt a little bit more in Cincinnati, but today I knuckled down and really thought about it and really gave myself a chance.

“The biggest thing, I believed that I could I win. We’re both out here on the same court. Just very happy I was able to come out and executive.”

Barty is confident she can cement herself as one of the best women’s players in the world and go deep in the Australian Open.

Barty has won 10 of her last 12 matches and has beaten World no. 2 Angelique Kerber and former World no. 1 Garbine Muguruza.

At 15th in the world, she’s aiming to push into the top 10 this season.

“The last two years have been extremely consistent, which I’m really, really pleased about but the next goal for me is top 10 and to go deep in singles in slam events,” Barty said.

The deepest Barty has gone in a grand slam is the fourth round of last years’ US Open with four Grand Slams ending in the third round over the last two years.

Barty has been considered by some commentators as a Grand Slam chance as soon as this year.

She was even given an honourable mention by the New York Times in an investigative survey of women’s tennis’ best shots.

More than 20 coaches, former players and analysts, including Aussie Nicole Pratt and former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, across the WTA Tour found judged Barty to be one of the most dangerous players on the Tour.

Right now, she has the best backhand slice in women’s tennis, according to the survey.

Her arsenal also includes the best overall net game, the second best second serve, one of the top five forehands and the third best overall feel and touch on the WTA Tour right now.

While Barty marches on in pursuit of a second straight final in Sydney, Halep’s defeat leaves her Australian Open preparations in tatters.

The 27-year-old hasn’t won a match in five months after an injury-marred end to 2018 and will also be in Melbourne without a coach after parting ways with Australian mentor Darren Cahill, who can longer commit to Halep due to family reasons.

But last year’s runner-up maintained a brave front.

“I think it was a great match after almost four months since I played one full match,” Halep said.

“I think I played a good level of tennis. I had no inspiration in some important points.

“She played really well. Her slice was great today, so, yeah, she deserved to win this match.

“But also I was very close to winning. I had so many chances to break her and to take advantage, but I couldn’t.”

with AAP

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Source link Australia Sport News

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