Ashleigh Barty eases into Australian Open final after comprehensive win over Madison Keys

Ashleigh Barty eases into Australian Open final after comprehensive win over Madison Keys - GETTY IMAGES

Ashleigh Barty eases into Australian Open final after comprehensive win over Madison Keys – GETTY IMAGES

Ashleigh Barty defeated Madison Keys to become the first Australian woman to reach the final of her home grand slam for more than 40 years.

The world No 1 went into the semi-final on an expectant Rod Laver Arena having not come close to dropping a set all tournament and eased to a 6-1 6-3 victory in only 62 minutes.

Australia has been waiting for a women’s singles finalist since Wendy Turnbull back in 1980, with Chris O’Neal the last home champion in the women’s or men’s singles two years earlier.

Keys had blasted her way through the draw, taking out two top-10 seeds in Paula Badosa and Barbora Krejcikova in the last two rounds, but Barty has looked a class apart all fortnight.

The 25-year-old reads the game so well, glides around the court and possesses a complete arsenal of weapons.

Shots from Keys that would have been winners against almost anyone else came back with interest, forcing the nervous American to go for more, and to miss.

The first set was over in just 26 minutes and, while Keys steadied the ship a little at the start of the second, Barty broke again to move 4-2 in front.

Keys’ attempts to put pressure on her opponent by coming to the net simply gave Barty a target to pass, and the home favourite marched into her third grand-slam final.

Barty has won major titles on grass at Wimbledon and on clay at the French Open, and is one win away from adding another on a hard court.

“It’s unreal. Honestly, it’s just incredible,” Barty said in her on-court TV interview. “I love coming out here and playing in Australia.

“As an Aussie, we’re exceptionally spoiled we get to play in our own back yard. Now we have a chance to play for a title. It’s unreal.”

10:16 AM

We will have live coverage

Of the second women’s semi-final between Iga Swiatek and Danielle Collins for you here.

The players are warming up so that match will be under way imminently.

A full report of Ashleigh Barty’s crushing win will be at the top of this blog for you shortly too.

Thanks for reading.

10:08 AM

Can anyone stop the Barty Party?

10:05 AM

Barty reacts…

I love this tournament, I love coming here and playing in Australia and as an Aussie we are spoiled that we are a grand slam nation and get to play at home. I get the chance to play for a title, it’s unreal. This is Brisbane weather, it was humid.

I tried to keep Maddy under the pump as she can take it away from you. She’s a great person, looks you in the eye, a lot of the girls love her.

09:59 AM

History maker

09:55 AM

The winning moment

09:48 AM

Barty* 6-1, 6-3 Keys (*denotes server)

Outstanding point by Keys, this time getting Barty on the move and finishing with a cross court backhand winner, 0-15. Keys return into the net, 15-15. Keys forehand error, 30-15.

Big wide serve by Barty is unreturned, two match points.

GAME. SET. MATCH BARTY. Barty completes a dominant win with a forehand winner. That was a masterclass from the Australian today.

09:45 AM

Barty 6-1, 5-3 Keys* (*denotes server)

Keys forehand winner to start the game. And another makes it 0-30. Wow. Huge running forehand down the line by Keys, 30-30.

A bit of fight from Keys as she crushes another cross court forehand winner, And she holds after an error from Barty.

09:41 AM

Barty* 6-1, 5-2 Keys (*denotes server)

Fifth Barty ace to open the game. Too many errors from Keys allowing Barty to move clear and a fourth love hold puts her a game away from the final.

09:40 AM

Barty 6-1, 4-2 Keys* (*denotes server)

Keys misses with a forehand winner down the line, 15-30. Wild forehand by Keys, she’s furious with herself. Two break points.

Barty backhand error, 30-40. And another makes it deuce. Relief for Keys.

Smart angled return by Barty catches out Keys and opens the court for a forehand winner down the line. Second break point.

Keys goes on the attack and decides to come to the net but that’s just what Barty wanted and she passes her opponent with a forehand to break.

09:33 AM

Barty* 6-1, 3-2 Keys (*denotes server)

A bit of tightness from Barty as she inexplicably nets a drive forehand, 15-30. But she responds by going on the attack and hitting a forehand winner down the line, 30-30. Big point coming up.

Deep return by Keys and Barty’s backhand flies wide. Break point. Superb first serve sets up the point for Barty and she finishes off with an overhead winner, deuce.

A bit of a wobble by Keys but she holds firm to hold with consecutive first serves.

09:29 AM

Barty 6-1, 2-2 Keys* (*denotes server)

Every service game is a big one fore Key as she tries to keep herself in the match and her first serve comes to the fore in this game.

An 11th winner for Barty as she puts away a forehand return to make it 40-30. Keys nets a backhand, deuce.

A few more errors creeping into Barty’s game and it is letting Keys off the hook a little bit.

Huge backhand winner down the line by Keys off a Barty backhand slice. Her best shot of the match.

09:22 AM

Barty* 6-1, 2-1 Keys (*denotes server)

Barty continues to be unplayable on serve and a fourth ace makes it 40-0. And a third love hold is completed when Keys pushes a forehand wide.

09:20 AM

Barty 6-1, 1-1 Keys* (*denotes server)

More errors from the racket of Keys sees her slip to 0-30. But a backhand winner down the line and unreturned first serve allows her to level.

Good defense by Keys to get a backhand back in play and Barty nets a drop volley.

And Barty completes a great recovery with a big wide serve and Barty’s return flies long. Could be an important hold.

09:18 AM

Second Set: Barty* 6-1, 1-0 Keys (*denotes server)

Barty cruises through another service game. Keys has no answers at the moment.

09:13 AM

Barty 6-1 Keys* (*denotes server)

Backhand slice continues to trouble Keys and she nets a forehand to fall to 15-30. Keys double fault, that was nervy. Two set points for Barty.

Keys takes the pace off her serve and she’s duly punished with a forehand return winner down the line by Barty.

Irresistible tennis by Barty.

09:10 AM

Barty* 5-1 Keys (*denotes server)

Barty hasn’t dropped a point on serve yet but Keys finally forces an error to move to 30-15. Barty goes for too much on the forehand side, 30-30.

Oh dear, chance for Keys but she nets a backhand return off a Barty second serve. She had to get that in play.

Barty backhand error makes it deuce. A bit luck for Keys as her deep backhand slice catches out Barty to earn a break point.

Barty aces to cancel that threat. Barty then goes on the attack and gets another forehand error from Keys.

Back-to-back first serves by Barty are unreturned by Keys and she holds.

09:02 AM

Barty 4-1 Keys* (*denotes server)

Vital that Keys serves well today to give her a starting point in rallies. But Barty is an excellent returner and not giving away any free points.

Great length on a chipped return from Barty and Keys nets a backhand. Break point.

Great depth again from Barty and Keys shanks a forehand out to conceded the double break. It’s all unravelling a bit for Keys.

08:59 AM

Barty* 3-1 Keys (*denotes server)

Barty is maneuvering the ball around the court expertly, getting Keys on the run and the frustration is already clear.

Barty holds to love with a forehand winner. Class.

08:56 AM

Barty 2-1 Keys* (*denotes server)

Better from Keys as hits a forehand winner to move 40-15 and she gets on the scoreboard when Barty goes long with a backhand.

That should hopefully settle her.

08:54 AM

Barty* 2-0 Keys (*denotes server)

Barty opens the game with an ace. Forehand long from Keys, 30-0. Brilliant second serve down the T by Barty catches out Keys and the American nets the return.

Barty consolidates.

08:51 AM

First set: Ashleigh Barty 1-0 Madison Keys* (*denotes server)

Perfect start by Keys as she finds a first serve and hits a forehand winner down the line.

In what could be a theme of the match, Barty gets Keys on the run and draws the error, 30-15. Keys forehand long, 30-30. Extremely quick start to the match from both players. Keys seems to struggle when Barty pushes her wide to the forehand side.

Both players committing errors but Barty earns a break point after targeting Keys forehand. And she breaks when Keys hits a drop shot that Barty easily reaches and flicks a forehand winner into the open court.

08:40 AM

Here we go…

…the players walk out to court and of course the home favourite Barty gets a huge reception from the crowd.

Keys wins the toss and opts to serve first.

08:36 AM

Multi-sport talented Barty

08:32 AM

Keys getting locked in

08:00 AM

Good morning and welcome to Telegraph Sport’s live coverage of the Australian Open

Madison Keys faces the biggest test of her resurgence when she meets Ash Barty in the Australian Open semi-finals today, as the American aims to end the top seed’s bid to delight home fans by winning an elusive title.

Keys, who reached the last-four in 2015, will play in her first Grand Slam semi-final in four years having emerged from the “dark pit of despair” she had fallen into due to the pressure she put on herself to perform at the highest level.

“I know I’m going to feel nervous… excited. I know all of those feelings are going to be there,” Keys said of her previous semi-final appearances at majors. “But it’s also a completely different situation, time and person.

“I think you take the experience that you have from those moments and you try to apply it, but you also know that it’s going to be a completely different challenge.”

Keys can expect a tough time against a ruthless Barty, who is chasing a third Grand Slam title to add to her French Open and Wimbledon crowns, and also become the first local player since Chris O’Neil in 1978 to triumph at Melbourne Park.

Barty is expecting a testing battle against Keys, who played superbly earlier on Tuesday when defeating reigning French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova 6-3 6-2.

She has won two of her three outings against Keys, with the most recent in a quarter-final at Roland Garros in 2019, the year she claimed the title.

The 25-year-old is delighted that the former U.S. Open finalist, who has suffered mental health and injury issues, has regained her best form.

“It is so nice to have Maddy back playing her best tennis. She deserves to be at the top of our game,” Barty said.

The dual major winner was heavily favoured when edged by eventual champion Sofia Kenin in a semi-final of the Australian Open two years ago. She feels like a superior player now.

“I have grown as a person. I have grown as a player. I feel like I am a more complete player,” Barty said.

“I have a couple of more years of experience under my belt in handling different experiences and problem solving out on the court.”

Reuters