Ashleigh Barty has booked her spot in the French Open quarter-finals after overcoming Sophia Kenin in three sets at Roland-Garros on Monday night.
The 23-year-old Australian, who is seeded eighth in Paris, sent the 20-year-old American packing 6-3 3-6 6-0 to reach her first round of 16 on the famous clay courts.
Barty served 11 aces to three and won five break points to progress after her match on Philippe-Chatrier.
In advancing to her second-successive grand slam quarter-final, Barty closed to within three wins of becoming Australia’s first French Open singles champion since Margaret Court in 1973.
Barty told on-court interviewer Fabrice Santoro she was enjoying herself as she looks deeper into the second week of the second grand slam tournament of the year.
“I play my best when I play simply … I’m in a very good place and enjoying myself,” Barty said.
— TennisAustralia (@TennisAustralia) June 3, 2019
She started the tournament with straight-sets wins over Jessica Pegula, Danielle Collins and Germany’s Andrea Petkovic, and will next play another American Madison Keys, who defeated doubles specialist Katerina Siniakova 6-2 6-4 earlier on Monday.
The Queenslander’s path to a grand slam title on the Paris clay was turned on its head during a dramatic Saturday at Roland Garros, when both Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka fell.
Dual Grand Slam winner Rod ‘the Rockhampton Rocket’ Laver – the only man to twice win all four grand slam tournaments (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, US Open) in the same calendar year – was among the many Australians cheering on Barty.
“Australia is behind you @ashbar96 Queensland gold!,” Laver tweeted.
“You can go all the way, no question. I’ll be cheering hard. So proud. Rocket.”
Australia is behind you @ashbar96, Queensland gold! Good luck in your 4th round match @rolandgarros today. You can go all the way, no question. I’ll be cheering hard. So proud. Rocket. 🚀 pic.twitter.com/nMxKYj2WT3
— Rod Laver (@rodlaver) June 3, 2019
Laver said he has no doubts Barty can continue her march towards a grand slam title.
“It’s amazing what she has accomplished here,” he told a packed media conference at Roland Garros.
“A couple of years back, she was a good doubles player and played some attractive singles.
“But something happened. She says, ‘I know how to win matches now’, and that’s what Barty has accomplished this year.”