And Barty makes it clear after the perfect start that she will not let anything get close to her own serve. The rate on the first serve isn’t right yet, but she also forces Keys to make return errors with the second serve and goes straight through her first service game to zero.
And then it’s faster than Keys can see. The American can’t use two more balls, serves too nervously and then Barty slams her forehand cross into the court. Keys chooses a good stop in the next rally, but it’s not short enough, Barty is fast on the net and slams the counter to win the break in the corner.
Barty 0-0 Keys
Both players start nervously, Barty in particular makes one or the other mistake more than usual, but Keys cannot use it when he serves to the game, hits the forehand behind the baseline and has to go straight to the debut.
Barty 0-0 Keys
It’s immediately clear what Keys’ match plan is, which is to lengthen the game with long baseline shots and force Barty to make mistakes – but you have to do that first because the Aussie is one of the safest players on the tour.
Keys opens and easily brings through two serves, but the Australian’s first point with the backhand slice is then frenetically celebrated by the audience.
Madison Keys receives the first right to serve and will start the match in a few moments.
Keys has never won against a world number one in her career and the only win against Barty was a long time ago. In 2017 she won the first round of the French Open straight in two sets, Barty returned the favor two years later in the quarterfinals on the way to the title. In the same year, the Australian also won the Billie Jean King Cup against the American, so she leads in the direct statistics by just under 2:1.
Right at the start it was against her compatriot and world number 13. Sofia Kenin, who Keys beat cleanly in 90 minutes. It got really tight for the first time in the third round against the Chinese Qiang Wang: it took two and a half hours and the match tie-break to decide the match and reach the round of 16 against Paula Badosa. Keys showed her old strength again and sent the Spaniard home in two sets, just like the French Open winner and number 4 in the world, Barbora Krejcíková. Now, however, she is facing the currently best player in the world – does the American’s dream run go one step further?
Madison Keys is in a major semifinals for the first time since 2018 and could reach her second final of her career. However, the former world No. 7 slipped far down the world rankings after winning just eleven matches last year. This season, however, the American seems to be coming back, as she has already collected eleven wins in the current tournament. Like Barty, she also won a parallel preparatory tournament in Adelaide and moved up to 51st place in the world rankings, but was still not seeded in Melbourne – her path to the semi-finals was correspondingly difficult.
The Australian was a little lucky in the tournament, only encountering a top 30 player in Jessica Pegula in the quarter-finals, previously all her opponents were outside the top 50. Nevertheless, her flawless record is impressive, she has won every game in straight sets and except in the match against Amanda Anisimova, she did not give up any service games. It was also the biggest challenge for Barty so far – although the 6: 4, 6: 3 after 1:16 hours was still very confident. In all four other matches, Barty only failed to win ten games and was on the court for an average of 60 minutes. Anything other than reaching the final would actually be a disappointment today.
Last year, the world No. 1 proved why she is at the top, winning five titles during the season despite not playing again towards the end of the year and also skipping the finals. Nevertheless, she also started the new year perfectly, crowned herself as champion in the preparation tournament in Adelaide and won her 14th career title. In the semi-finals she met her possible final opponent at the Australian Open: the Pole Iga Swiatek. She is in action after this semi-final, for her Danielle Collins is also against an American. But first Ash Barty has to successfully complete the second semi-final in Melbourne on home soil after 2020 and have a chance at the title for the first time – at that time she was surprised by eventual winner Sofia Kenin 7: 6, 7: 5.
Good morning and welcome to the first semi-final of the women’s competition at the Australian Open. Ash Barty meets Madison Keys at Rod Laver Arena starting at 9:30am ET.