Sports

Ash Barty marches into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open

World no. 1 tennis player Ash Barty is Australia’s greatest hope in the year’s first major tournament. With the draw opening up, things are looking good.

Despite taking most of last year off from the tour, Australian tennis star and world no. 1 player Ash Barty has hit the ground running in the Australian Open.

In an all-Australian second-round encounter, Barty defeated Daria Gavrilova in straight sets. And while it was a tense match — especially in the second set — she proved that she still has the grit to get the job done, even if she wasn’t at her irresistible best.

Since then, however, the Barty party has been in full swing. Two straight-sets wins in succession sees her advance to the quarter-finals, for a matchup against Karolina Muchova.

Photo: AP Andy Brownbill

Fresh from winning last week’s Yarra Valley Classic, Barty took that form into the first round of the Australian Open. She demolished Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic, 6-0, 6-0 in 44 minutes.

The good news for Barty as the tournament progresses: last year’s champion (and the player who defeated Barty in that tournament) Sofia Kenin has been knocked out. There is, however, no shortage of potential threats in the women’s draw, with Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams and Simona Halep still alive.

If her current form continues, the world no.1 is on course to reach the final. Naomi Osaka will play a semi-final against either Simona Halep or Serena Williams. Barty will have to overcome Muchova in the quarters for a chance to play either 22nd seed Jennifer Brady, or the unseeded Jessica Pegula in the semi-finals on the other side of the draw.

Nick Kyrgios

On the men’s side of the draw, there are no Australians left. Nick Kygrios was gallant in defeat against Dominic Thiem, while Alex de Minaur was outgunned by Fabio Fognini. The men’s quarter-finals is all-European, with blockbuster matches between Novak Djokovic and Alexander Sverev, while Rafael Nadal will take on Stefanos Tsitsipas.