New York is hoping on Monday morning (AEST) to get the match up that was denied the tennis world at Wimbledon – Ash Barty versus Serena Williams.
But – as always, and as she did in the UK – Barty maintains she is keeping her eyes firmly on what comes next, and that’s Chinese 18th seed Qiang Wang.
Having already equalled her best-ever run at the US Open, Barty is taking heart from her strong-serving 7-5 6-3 third-round victory over Greek player Maria Sakkari.
Underlined by eight aces, the victory vaulted Barty to within a win of a quarter-final blockbuster against Williams, who continued her quest for a record-equalling 24th grand slam singles title with a 6-3 6-2 destruction of Karolina Muchova.
Barty and Williams were also slated to collide in the Wimbledon quarter-finals, only for Australia’s then-world No.1 to suffer a shock fourth-round loss to unseeded American Alison Riske.
At the time there was much discussion about the potential Williams match-up, but thankfully Barty herself had stuck to her ‘one game at a time’ mantra.
“I only ever look at my next match,” Barty said on Saturday (AEST).
Barty certainly won’t be taking Wang lightly, especially given the Chinese is the highest-ranked rival she will play since downing Madison Keys in the French Open quarter-finals two months and 16 matches ago.
The Queenslander can take comfort from the fact she has beaten Wang in straight sets in their two previous encounters, both last year.
She has particularly fond memories of their most recent encounter, when Barty captured the biggest title of her career to that point last October in Zhuhai.
“That was the most magical way to end my season last year. It was incredible,” Barty said.
“I remember I started the final very well. The courts in Zhuhai are very similar to those in Brisbane. I think it was the same architect that actually built them with the roof and everything.
“It kind of had a sense of home, a very familiar setting, a very familiar court. An incredible match from both of us. It was high quality, a good level.”
Sakkari, seeded 30th, had beaten Barty last year in Indian Wells but the French Open champion was a class above this time around.
“Overall today there were parts of the match I was really happy with. I feel like a few of the things that I’ve been lacking over the last month kind of came together a little bit today,” Barty said of her best display of the American hardcourt swing.
I felt like I served a lot better, controlled the ball off the first strike more often than not. In the bigger moments, I felt like there was some better stuff there.”
The Aussie superstar also remains a chance of securing back-to-back US Open doubles titles after winning her first-round match on Friday with fellow former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka.
Champion last year with Coco Vandeweghe, Barty and Azarenka combined for a 4-6 6-1 6-1 victory over Margarita Gasparyan and Monica Niculescu.