Ash Barty knocked out of Australian Open in shock defeat

Author
news.com.au,
Publish Date
Thu, 30 Jan 2020, 8:27PM
Ashleigh Barty has been knocked out of the Australian Open. Photo / Getty
Ashleigh Barty has been knocked out of the Australian Open. Photo / Getty

Ash Barty knocked out of Australian Open in shock defeat

Author
news.com.au,
Publish Date
Thu, 30 Jan 2020, 8:27PM

World No 1 and local hope Ash Barty is out of the Australian Open after losing to Sofia Kenin in straight sets.

The Aussie looked on track to take the match into a deciding third set after losing the first, going up a break in the second but she stumbled badly and Kenin took full advantage to break the hearts of Aussie tennis fans, winning 7-6 7-5.

The 14th seeded American pulled off the biggest win of her career and advanced to a grand slam final for the first time with a victory built as much on attitude and fighting spirit as it was on ability.

"I've just dreamed about this moment since I was five years old," Kenin said.

Barty looked like she would at least send the match to a deciding third test, having consolidated her early second set break by holding serve to extend her buffer to 3-1 and starting to pull out her favourite shot – the slice backhand – more regularly to great effect.

Running backwards to the backhand corner after being dragged deep and wide by Kenin, Barty produced her best shot of the match with an exceptional slice down-the-line winner.

She backed that up with another slice winner in the same game.

"Ding, ding, ding. We have a winning strategy. The slice backhand I think is perfect for Barty," Channel 9's Jim Courier said in commentary.

"The tactics have played every bit as well as anything else. The backhand has really driven this scoreline for Ash Barty."

Barty went up 4-2 and the crowd was roaring its approval, willing the top seed on as she tried to force the match into a deciding third set.

Soon it was 5-3 before Kenin held serve in a tense game and it was 5-4.

The temperature was nearing the 40C mark at Melbourne Park and Barty and Kenin kept sweating it out, as play in junior matches on the outside courts was suspended.

Despite the heat policy coming into effect, the roof on Rod Laver Arena remained open, when normally in this situation it would be closed to protect the players from the harsh sun.

Barty looked assured, but when serving to take the match into a third and deciding set, she suffered some hiccups. An unforced error from Kenin saw the Aussie save a break point but the American took her chance when a bad miss from Barty made it 5-5.

The 23-year-old had an easy winner on offer but chunked her swinging volley into the net and the ball went out, before Kenin broke Barty's serve again, and Australian hearts.

 

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