Aryna Sabalenka thanks Billie Jean King after Australian Open win
It's Sabalenka's first title.
Ash Barty continued to roll on Thursday, breezing past Madison Keys 6-1, 6-3 to reach the final of the Australian Open. She’s the first home player to reach the women’s final since Wendy Turnbull in 1980.
Made Down Under ™️— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 27, 2022
🇦🇺 @ashbarty defeats Madison Keys 6-1 6-3 to become the first home representative to reach the #AusOpen women's singles final since 1980.
🎥: @wwos • @espn • @eurosport • @wowowtennis #AO2022 pic.twitter.com/C7NtLJySmp
With the win, Barty’s hopes of becoming the first women’s home champion since Chris O’Neil in 1978 are still alive.
Having dropped just 21 games in six matches, Barty recorded the fewest games lost en route to a Grand Slam title match since Serena Williams dropped 16 en route to the 2013 US Open final. It’s also tied for fourth-lowest this century: Williams dropped 19 at the 2012 US Open, sister Venus dropped 20 at Wimbledon in 2009 and Serena also dropped 21 at the 2013 French Open.
Throughout the 62 minute match, Barty racked up 20 winners to 13 unforced errors. Keys, meanwhile, had only eight winners to 24 unforced errors.
“It’s tough,” Keys said of Barty’s play after the match. “It sucks. She’s just playing incredibly well. I mean, you have a game plan in your head, but she’s just executing everything so well.”
The Australian will next take on No. 27 American Danielle Collins, who upset No. 7 Iga Swiatek 6-4, 6-1 to reach her first Grand Slam final. It was Collins’ seventh career top 10 win.
The fairytale run continues for Danielle Collins ✨— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 27, 2022
The American delivers an emphatic 6-4 6-1 victory to upset 7th seed Iga Swiatek and advance to her maiden Grand Slam final.
🎥: @wwos • @espn • @eurosport • @wowowtennis#AusOpen • #AO2022 pic.twitter.com/NTeCwykXlE
When asked about Collins, Barty called her “one of the most fierce competitors out here.”
“She loves to get in your face and loves to really take it on,” Barty said. “It’s going to be a challenge for me to try and neutralize as best that I can, but it is certainly nice to see her back out here playing her best stuff.”
While Barty leads the head-to-head against Collins 3-1, the American hasn’t lost a complete match since Indian Wells last October, marking a streak of 11-straight wins. She had to retire to Alison Riske in the Linz Open semifinals in November.
The 28-year-old slammed home 27 winners and only 13 unforced errors on Thursday. Her aggressive approach to the game was no match for Swiatek, who said as much after the match.
“I was prepared for her playing aggressive game, but I think that was the fastest ball I have ever played against on a match,” Swiatek said. “For sure in practices I have hit maybe the same speed, but on matches it’s different because players don’t want to take that much risk. But it seemed for her that it wasn’t even risky because she was playing it with control.
“So I am impressed, and huge respect to her because she’s playing a great game. I’m just curious how it’s gonna look like on the final, and I’m gonna for sure be watching and learning.”
It's Sabalenka's first title.
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