Tournament favourite Ashleigh Barty looks to move to one win away from her third slam title on Thursday, facing an in-form Madison Keys for a spot in the final in Melbourne. The World No.1 looks a cut above the rest and winning the title here would see her be just a US Open away from a Career Grand Slam.
Keys at her best is a clear top 10 player but between injuries and inconsistency, the American has not had the career that many may have hoped after she burst onto the scene as a youngster. She is riding a 10 match winning streak with an impressive five top 20 wins in addition to that. The most notable of those was her quarter final win over Barbora Krejcikova, where she hit 11 aces against the Czech in a dominant 6-3 6-2 win. “[I’m] really just trying to be a lot more measured and just playing within myself a little bit more, not necessarily trying to hit a winner on that ball, just constantly trying to set the point up to get to the net to try to finish it off on even the next ball. If it happens to be a winner, then it happens to be a winner.” she said afterwards.
Both Keys and Barty came into the tournament with a 2022 title, having both won in Adelaide this month. Barty has barely been troubled in the tournament so far, losing an average of four games a match. Her quarter final win over Pegula saw her drop just two games, despite an uncharacteristically high number of unforced errors (16) in the opening set of the 6-2 6-0 victory.
“I have been able to execute, which is sometimes important – you can have all the right ideas but you need to be able to do it under the pump. I’ve been able to do that this week, which has been really exciting.” Barty said after her win. What makes the Australian such a tough opponent to beat is her ability to switch things up as well as having no clear weaknesses in her game. Keys at her very best has the ability to pick up the win but being able to maintain for long periods will be a tough ask.
Prediction – Ashleigh Barty in straight sets