Dominant Barty storms Kenin in Adelaide to set up clash with Swiatek

Australia’s Ashleigh Barty practices before the 2022 Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia on December 29, 2021. REUTERS / Loren Elliott

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Jan. 7 (Reuters) – World number one Ash Barty wowed the crowd on Memorial Drive by advancing to the Adelaide International semi-finals on Friday with a comfortable 6-3 6-4 victory over Sofia Kenin to set up a meeting with defending champion Iga Swiatek.

Barty, the 2020 Adelaide champion, dominated from the start and showed no signs of rusting in her victory over Coco Gauff in the previous round of the Australian Open warm-up event.

In their first meeting since Kenin upset Barty in the 2020 Australian Open semi-final, the American struggled with her serve as her top-ranked opponent was nearly perfect, producing 17 aces and winning 31 of 32 first serve points.

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Barty marked the crucial break halfway through the first set and continued that momentum into the second, concluding the win in just over an hour without facing a single breaking point.

“I felt pretty good today. I was able to take care of my serve games quite well and it was a lot of fun playing here and having more time on the pitch,” said Barty.

Former Roland Garros champion Swiatek secured her place in the last four in contrasting fashion after being put to a sweat by two-time major winner Victoria Azarenka in an entertaining 6-3 2-6 6-1 win that lasted nearly two hours.

The Polish fifth seed dictated the game with her powerful forehand as she won the first set before Azarenka fired back in the second, taking advantage of Swiatek’s unstable serve as he advanced towards the net at every opportunity.

But Swiatek, 20, ultimately withdrew in the decision as Azarenka’s movement was severely hampered by a right thigh injury.

The Belarusian then withdrew from her doubles semi-final – where she partnered with Paula Badosa – due to the injury, handing over Darija Jurak Schreiber and Andreja Klepac.

“Winning against such a seasoned player is still pretty new to me,” said Swiatek. “Basically my main tactic was the same as in the previous game: I want to be the first to attack and play that ball faster which will give me the opportunity to move forward.”

Earlier on Friday, seventh seed Elena Rybakina fought to win 3-6 6-3 6-2 in the quarterfinal against Shelby Rogers and will face Japan’s Misaki Doi, who outlasted Kaja Juvan 6-3 4-6 7-6 (5), for a place in the final.

In the Adelaide ATP 250 men’s event, Frenchman Gael Monfils beat American Tommy Paul 6-4 6-1 to advance to the semi-finals where he will face local prospect Thanasi Kokkinakis, who dug deep for a 7-6 (9) 4-6 6-4 victory over Sweden’s Mikael Ymer.

Second seed Karen Khachanov beat Belarusian qualifier Egor Gerasimov 7-5 6-3 to set up a last-four encounter with third-seeded Marin Cilic, who beat Serbian Laslo Djere 6-3 6-2 .

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Reporting by Hritika Sharma and Dhruv Munjal in Bangalore; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Toby Davis

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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