Ashleigh Barty feeling no pressure after making Australian Open semi-finals for the first time


January 28, 2020 19:41:21

Australia may be buzzing with excitement as Ash Barty keeps her Australian Open title hopes alive at Melbourne Park, but the world number one is taking no notice.

Key points:

  • Ash Barty says she is ignoring public expectation as her Australian Open campaign continues
  • Barty beat Petra Kvitova 7-6 (8/6), 6-2 to become the first Australian to make the semi-finals of the women’s draw in 36 years
  • She meets 14th seed Sofia Kenin in the last four

Not that she is rude or unappreciative of the nation’s support, as Barty only ever conducts herself with grace and humility.

Rather, Barty and her team are content to remain inside the bubble they have created for themselves and they are not feeling any of the expectation that is building ahead of her Australian Open semi-final against American 14th seed Sofia Kenin on Thursday.

“I don’t pay attention to it [public expectation], honestly,” Barty said at Melbourne Park this afternoon.

“I’m here to try and do the best that I can. Obviously, it’s exciting.

“Hopefully I can bring a smile to a few faces around our country and around the world.”

Barty’s 7-6 (8/6), 6-2 win over Petra Kvitova in this afternoon’s quarter-final on Rod Laver Arena means she is the first Australian to reach the semi-finals of the women’s draw since Wendy Turnbull in 1984.

Turnbull was also Australia’s most recent women’s finalist (1980), while Chris O’Neil has been the answer to a perennial trivia night question as the last local player to lift the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup in 1978.

It has also been a long time between drinks for Australia’s men, with the drought stretching back to Mark Edmondson’s victory in 1976.

The local sporting public has been starved of success at the Open and all eyes are on Barty, especially since Nick Kyrgios’s departure from the men’s draw following last night’s epic against Rafael Nadal means she is the only Australian left contesting the singles in Melbourne.

The fact the 23-year-old entered her home major as the world’s top-ranked women’s player and is one of Australia’s most-loved sportspeople has only fed the desperation for her to win and add another trophy to sit alongside her French Open title.

Australian Open organisers have naturally cashed in Barty’s popularity and her standing in the tennis world, and they have had no hesitation in using her image for advertising purposes around Melbourne.

This could have had the potential to heap even more external pressure on Barty, but the Queenslander has her own way of dealing with the hype.

“My team do a good job at taking the piss a little bit, sending me some of the photos,” a smiling Barty said.

“You just have to have fun with it. That’s the only way. I don’t really have a lot of time, actually.”

“I’ve been on site [at Melbourne Park] quite a bit, not really going for leisurely strolls around Melbourne.

“When I have an hour or two, it’s more just going back to the apartment and spending time with family. That’s about it.”

Barty’s approach is obviously working, as she has already achieved her best result at the Australian Open courtesy of reaching the semi-finals.

Naturally, she would not be satisfied with simply appearing in the semi-finals and firmly on her mind is advancing to Saturday evening’s tournament decider.

She will continue to ignore the outside noise, even though public expectation is about to step up a notch as Australia dares to dream.

“For me, it’s trying to do the best that I can, find that enjoyment for myself and my team,” she said.






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