Melbourne: World number one Ash Barty took just over an hour to defeat American Madison Keys 6-1, 6-3 in the Australian Open semi-final on Thursday, continuing her remarkable run during the past fortnight in Melbourne.
The reigning Wimbledon champion is yet to drop a set in the major and has lost just 21 games in six matches. Victory in Saturday’s final would make Barty the first local to win the Australian Open since Chris O’Neil in 1978.
Barty, who is the first Australian to reach a final at home since Lleyton Hewitt in 2005, will play 27th seed American Danielle Collins in the decider.
Collins stunned Poland’s Iga Swiatek with a commanding 6-4, 6-1 victory to reach the final. She made a lighting start on Rod Laver Arena and raced into a 4-0 lead.
Seventh seed Swiatek responded to claw back some of the damage but 28-year-old Collins held firm to close out the set.
It was a repeat show in the second set as a dominant Collins again roared into a 4-0 lead.
This time there was no counter-attack by 2020 French Open champion Swiatek as Collins, showing no nerves as her first Grand Slam final loomed, wrapped up victory on her second match point in 78 minutes. (
Barty, meanwhile, said she cannot wait to play on Saturday. “Absolutely. Let’s do it,” a beaming Barty said on court. “It is unreal. Honestly, it is just incredible.
“I love coming out here and playing in Australia and, as an Aussie, we are exceptionally spoiled that we are a Grand Slam nation (and) we get to play in our backyard and I am just happy that I get to play my best tennis here.
“I’ve done well before and now we have a chance to play for a title. It is unreal.” She paid tribute to her American opponent, who endured a difficult 2021 but has started the season brightly.
“It is just so nice to see her back where she belongs. She is an amazing human being,” she said.
“You see the way she carries herself on the court. She smiles and she gives it her best. But I love most that she is a great person. We really respect her and we love her.”