Australian Open: Ashleigh Barty wins, Victoria Azarenka & Maria Sakkari lose in Melbourne

Ashleigh Barty
Ashleigh Barty (right) beat Amanda Anisimova (left) in the semi-finals on her way to winning the 2019 French Open – the Australian’s first major title
Dates: 17-30 January Venue: Melbourne Park
Coverage: Daily radio commentaries on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Sport website and app, with selected live text commentaries online; TV highlights from middle Saturday.

World number one Ashleigh Barty’s quest to become the Australian Open’s first home champion in 44 years continued with a victory over Amanda Anisimova.

Barty, 25, has still not dropped a set in Melbourne this fortnight after a 6-4 6-3 win over Anisimova, who previously beat defending champion Naomi Osaka.

Barty will play another American, Jessica Pegula, in the quarter-finals.

Pegula beat fifth seed Maria Sakkari, while two-time champion Victoria Azarenka lost to Barbora Krejcikova.

Greece’s Sakkari was beaten 7-6 (7-0) 6-3 by former quarter-finalist Pegula, who is seeded 21st.

Azarenka, who won the title in 2012 and 2013, fell to French Open winner Krejcikova 6-2 6-2.

Elsewhere, Madison Keys continued her strong form with victory over Spanish eighth seed Paula Badosa and the American goes on to face fourth seed Krejcikova.

Barty broken but still not beaten

Wimbledon champion Barty is aiming to become the first Australian singles player to win the opening Grand Slam of the year since Chris O’Neil won the women’s title in 1978.

While 32nd seed Alex de Minaur is still in the men’s draw, it is Barty on whom the nation is largely pinning their hopes.

The world number one has been in supreme form, having now won all eight of her singles matches this year.

After beating three top-20 players to win the Adelaide International title earlier this month, the 25-year-old Queenslander has been dominant in the opening four rounds in Melbourne.

On a supportive Rod Laver Arena, Barty was pushed more by Anisimova than any of her previous three opponents.

“The last two years have been extraordinarily tough for everyone around the world and us tennis players have been lucky enough to keep playing,” said Barty, who has reached the Australian Open quarter-finals for the fourth straight year.

“Having the fans back brings more to the tennis, it is a lot more fun and more enjoyable for me to play at home.”

Anisimova, 20, was edged out of a tight opening set by a single break at 3-3, unable to take any of the two opportunities she earned herself in the fourth and eight games.

Surviving those meant Barty extended her run of service games without being broken to 63 games.

However, that record was ended in the first game of the second set as Anisimova – like she did against Osaka in the third round – threatened to come back from behind and cause an upset.

But Barty, backed by a noisy home crowd and watched by 11-time Grand Slam champion Laver, instantly broke back for 2-1 and then claimed the final four games as Anisimova’s level dropped.

A ‘dream’ for Krejcikova but Azarenka hampered by injury

Victoria Azarenka
Victoria Azarenka received a medical timeout for treatment to her neck during her loss to Barbora Krejcikova

Azarenka’s exit means that Rafael Nadal is the only former Australian Open champion remaining in either the men’s or the women’s draw.

The Belarusian took a medical timeout for treatment to her neck during her match against Krejcikova.

Czech Krejcikova, who has yet to drop a set at Melbourne Park, is in contention for the world number one ranking along with Barty and Aryna Sabalenka.

“It was really amazing today because she is a champion here and I really admire her,” Krejcikova said.

“It was a dream to play in a court like this and against such a champion.”

Former US Open finalist Keys needed just 71 minutes to beat Badosa 6-3 6-1 and secure her place in the quarter-finals.

Keys won the Adelaide International 2 title in the build-up to the Australian Open and is on a 10-match unbeaten streak.

Compatriot Pegula described her win over Sakkari as her “best match of the year”” as she outlasted the Greek in the Melbourne heat.

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