ASH BARTY-1641577984429
Australian Ash Barty hits a backhand return to Sofia Kenin of the US at the Adelaide International WTA singles tournament on Friday. Image Credit: AFP

Adelaide: World No 1 Ashleigh Barty fired off 17 aces as she downed former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin 6-3, 6-4 in the quarter-finals of the Adelaide International on Friday.

Barty was in superb form as she saw off world No 12 Kenin in just 68 minutes of quality tennis.

The 25-year-old Australian served beautifully, winning 31 of 32 points on her first serve and nine of 16 on her second, not giving Kenin any opportunities to break.

By contrast, Kenin’s serve was not nearly as effective and while she was only broken once in each set, she struggled to hold throughout.

The American’s chances were also not helped by the 26 unforced errors she made, many coming from her forehand side.

Barty, who has not played a tournament since taking a pandemic-enforced break at the end of last September’s US Open, has had a tough run at the season-opening Adelaide tournament.

She had a first-round bye before beating rising American star Coco Gauff in three sets in the second round and then facing Kenin in the quarter-finals.

Really tested

And her path doesn’t get any easier, with her semi-final opponent to be either in-form Iga Swiatek or former world number one Victoria Azarenka.

“That’s what you want,” she said.

“It’s nice to be able to come out here and be really tested from the start and know you have to bring your very best level.

“Looking at both these previous two matches, there’s still work to be done, but it’s been a really solid start and we’re happy with the foundation we’ve set to start the year off.”

Seventh seed Elena Rybakina moved into the final four after rallying to beat American Shelby Rogers.

The towering Rybakina struggled on serve in the first set but recovered to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

She will take on Misaki Doi in the semi-finals after the Japanese player downed Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7/5).

In the men’s draw, top seed Gael Monfils cruised into the semi-finals with a 6-4, 6-1 win over American Tommy Paul.

He was joined in the last four by third seed Marin Cilic, who beat Slovenia’s Laslo Djere 6-3, 6-2.