Sport Tennis One-time cricketer Ashleigh Barty stays on front foot as she cracks world top 10

One-time cricketer Ashleigh Barty stays on front foot as she cracks world top 10

Ashleigh Barty moves into the top 10 after advancing at the Miami Open. Photo: Getty
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Australian Ashleigh Barty has overcome a two-hour rain delay to secure a hoodoo-busting quarter-final triumph over Petra Kvitova at the Miami Open on Wednesday.

The 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 6-2 win, which was the Queenslander’s first win over the dual Wimbledon champion in five meetings, came with the bonus of moving into the world top 10.

In reversing her Australian Open quarter-final loss to the Czech in January, Barty sealed her place in the world’s elite for the first time – a far cry from 2014 when she took time off tennis to play cricket for Brisbane Heat in the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League.

The 22-year-old joins fellow Queenslander Samantha Stosur as only the second Australian in the past decade to reach such lofty heights in the rankings.

Lleyton Hewitt and Alicia Molik are the only other Australians in the past 15 years to crack the top 10.

Barty’s breakthrough win also scuppered world No.2 Kvitova’s hopes of claiming the No.1 ranking for the first time.

The 29-year-old needed to lift the trophy to usurp Naomi Osaka, who lost in the third round.

“Petra is someone I respect probably most on tour, she is an absolute champion, a lovely girl and she has always made time for me ever since I was very young on the tour,” Barty said in a courtside interview.

“I very much appreciate and love playing Petra. Every time it is a pleasure and she is a real champion.”

Barty, who is now slated to rise to No.9 in the world in next week’s rankings, said it was important to attack Kvitova’s serve as much as possible if she was to snare the breakthrough win.

“I think I knew that I had to take her serve away from her as much as possible,” she said.

“It’s one of her biggest weapons. I knew if I could get into a lot of her services games I could back myself in on serve.”

Barty, who won the US Open doubles title with American CoCo Vandeweghe in 2018, will face Anett Kontaveit in the semi-finals after the Estonian brought Hsieh Su-wei’s giant-killing run to a dramatic end with a thrilling comeback win over the Taiwanese.

The 33-year-old Hsieh, having taken out Osaka and 13th seed Caroline Wozniacki, looked poised to add the 21st seed to her list by racing to a 4-0 lead in the third set.

But Kontaveit, 10 years her junior, took a page from the Taiwanese player’s playbook and dug in to prevail 3-6 6-2 7-5.

“I was so close to being out of there so many times,” Kontaveit said.

“I just tried to keep fighting and trying to stay in there and try and still be aggressive somehow.

“I was trying to think more about what I have to do than about the score.”

-with AAP

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