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Ashleigh Barty in the Australian Open final against Danielle Collins

Ashleigh Barty is in a league of his own at the Australian Open, and the long-awaited home win is within reach.

The Australian fans rose from their seats cheering for their furious “Ash”, the legendary Rod Laver gave applause – but Ashleigh Barty already had the final step of her mission in mind.

With a satisfied grin, the world number one acknowledged her great opportunity to fulfill the dream of an entire nation to win the Australian Open for the first time since 1978.

During the winner’s interview after entering the final, Barty was asked whether she was ready. “Absolutely,” she replied, “Let’s do it!””

Ashleigh Barty ‘just happy’

With just one win to end Australia’s losing streak, Barty, who is in a league of her own in Melbourne, is determined.

“It’s just unbelievable,” said the Wimbledon winner after the 6: 1, 6: 3 in the semifinals against the American Madison Keys: “I’m just happy that I can play my best tennis here and fight for the title . It’s unreal.”

As the first Australian since Wendy Turnbull 42 years ago, she is in the final and is also clearly favored on Saturday against the American Danielle Collins, who after many health problems in recent years with a 6: 4, 6: 1 against the former French -Open winner Iga Swiatek moved into her first major final.

And after her stunning semi-final, Barty humbly delivered a prime example of why her popularity at home knows no bounds.

The 25-year-old didn’t want to say many words about her own impressive achievements – she raved about the previously so convincing Keys and paid homage to the Australian wheelchair tennis star Dylan Alcott, who just before Barty’s gala performance the last Grand Slam final lost his career. She received tremendous applause.

Ashleigh Barty dominates the Australian Open

It is Barty who puts the stamp on this Australian Open. In her six matches until the final, she only gave up 21 (!) Games, Steffi Graf had entered the final in 1989 with 16 lost games.

Barty has seemingly effortlessly withstood the pressure of being the big favorite for the title since the start of the tournament. “We’ll keep doing our thing,” said the two-time Grand Slam winner: “I’ll come back on Saturday with a massive grin on my face and then see what happens.”

In 1978, Christine O’Neil was the last Australian to win the home Grand Slam title. Barty’s best result in Melbourne so far was reaching the 2020 semifinals, when she lost to eventual winner Sofia Kenin (USA). For the men, the dry spell has lasted since 1976, with top stars Pat Cash (1987, 1988) and Lleyton Hewitt (2005) failing in the final just before the finish line.

“It’s what a lot of Australian players dream of,” Barty said of their chance for the title at home: “It’s going to be an incredible experience on Saturday. I can’t wait to enjoy it.” And final opponent Collins also looked ahead with anticipation: “Playing against the number one in the world in your home country will be spectacular.

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