MELBOURNE, Australia — World No. 1 Ash Barty just does everything better.
Those are the words of Barty’s Australian Open quarterfinal opponent, American 21st seed Jessica Pegula, who managed to win just two games in Tuesday’s night’s last eight tie. Barty needed just 63 minutes to overcome Pegula and book her place in the semifinals of her home Slam for the second time in three years.
“She just does everything well. Honestly, she just does everything a little bit better than everybody [and] you feel pretty helpless [at times],” Pegula said after the match. “When she gets into a rhythm, she can kind of run away and there’s really not much you can do.
“She kind of plays more like a guy, maybe a different kind of style we’re not used to playing day in and day out. It’s really hard to come from someone who hits the ball really hard to someone that’s giving you all of these different shots that you don’t normally see.”
Barty has reached the second week at the Australian Open in each of the last four years. Her 2019 and 2021 quarterfinal runs were sandwiched by a semifinal appearance in 2020, but the Queenslander’s game has never looked as dominant as it has this year at Melbourne Park.
En route to the semifinals, Barty has dropped just 17 games. For context, she lost 40 games across the five matches when she made the last four 24 months ago. She has spent just five hours and four minutes on court, meaning she’s getting the job done, on average, in around an hour and 50 seconds. She has also won 62% of the 478 points played this tournament.
“I’m just having fun [and] trying to problem solve out on the court,” Barty said following her quarterfinal win. “Each and every opponent has been different, each and every opponent has presented me with a different challenge and forced me to use another tool in my toolbox. “Now we’re in with a chance to go out there and play a semifinal at home, couldn’t be more pumped and really, really excited.”
Barty will be looking to become the first Australian-born player to reach an Australian Open singles final since Lleyton Hewitt in 2005 when she takes on unseeded American Madison Keys. The pair have played three times, twice at majors, with Barty holding the career edge 2-1.
And while Pegula believes Barty should be favoured to go all the way in Melbourne, she admitted Keys might just be a sterner test for the home favourite than herself.
“Madison will play her pretty close,” she said. “I think their games match up a little bit differently. Ash obviously can beat anybody but so can Maddie. I’m not as tall or my serve isn’t as big of a weapon for me as it is for Maddie. I think if she can do those two things she can really make it a tougher match. I think it’s going to be a really great semi.”
If Barty is able to overcome Keys, she will then be searching more history as the first Australian to win the Australian Open in 44 years.