Ash Barty has become the first Australian woman to make the Wimbledon semi-finals for 21 years by beating compatriot Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1 6-3 on Centre Court.
Barty said she was living a dream after winning Wimbledon’s battle of Australia with a virtuoso destruction of her friend Tomljanovic.
The pair’s quarter-final under the roof on another soggy day at SW19 ended up being as predictable as its billing on Tuesday (local time), with the world’s finest woman player proving far too accomplished for the No.75 as she soared to a 6-1 6-3 victory in 66 one-sided minutes.
Playing in her first grand slam quarter-final, the 28-year-old Tomljanovic was valiant but outmatched. She was bewildered by the all-court mastery that has led Barty to become the first Australian since Jelena Dokic in 2000 to make the last-four at Wimbledon.
“Ajla’s an incredible competitor, I’ve practised with her a lot, we’re Fed Cup teammates and she was always going to bring out the very best in me,” Barty told the crowd after the nation’s top two women players hugged at the net.
“She’s had an incredible fortnight and I think all Aussies back home are bloody proud of her.
“This is a dream come true, genuinely it is.”
After her command performance, Barty will next play the 2018 champion Angelique Kerber in the semi-final. The rejuvenated German 25th seed earlier outclassed Czech Karolina Muchova, the No.19 seed, 6-2 6-3 on No.1 Court.
“It’s the ultimate test,” said top seed Barty, who’s had two wins and two losses against the German previously.
The other semi will pit Barty’s regular foe this season, Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, the No.2 seed who ended Ons Jabeur’s run 6-4 6-3, against Czech eighth seed Karolina Pliskova, who defeated Viktorija Golubic 6-2 6-2.
Barty and Tomljanovic were playing the first all-Australian women’s quarter-final at SW19 since Evonne Goolagong Cawley beat Wendy Turnbull 41 years ago.
Barty will be hoping it’s a happy omen as Goolagong Cawley went on to win that year in 1980 and now she’s just two matches away from becoming an Indigenous Australian champion herself, half a century since her idol and mentor won her first title here.
Barty’s natural fluid game, with a 21st century layer of power, again evoked memories of the great ex-champion as she swept to victory with six breaks of serve.
Tomljanovic won her opening service game to love, but was then dismantled by Barty’s array of shot-making, from the wicked slices that the Aussie No.2 just couldn’t dig out to the top-spin forehands that arced past her in a 24-minute first set.
Tomljanovic, on her Centre Court debut, admitted she had been a bit overwhelmed – mainly by Barty’s brilliance.
“Everything started going really quickly, and she was playing well,” she said.
“It felt a little bit, like, well, from the backhand side she’s slicing, which I’m not liking, and from the forehand she’s kind of moving me around the court. I was like, ‘Well, where do I go?’
Tomljanovic, watched by her boyfriend Matteo Berrettini – who plays in the men’s quarter finals on Wednesday – reckoned the despair made her angry.
She started going for her shots more, even earning two breaks of serve herself in the second set while still mostly watching Barty’s glorious whip-like forehand winners – 17 in all – fly past.
Barty earned break points to move 5-1 up. Yet the spirited Croatian-born Tomljanovic rescued that game and even broke again to reduce the arrears to 4-3.
Ipswich’s finest cracked another couple of forehand tracers to break for 5-3 and quickly sealed the deal with a fifth ace. All the time, she resembled the Barty who ran riot early in the clay-court season before injuries caught up with her.
“I feel good,” she said.
“The grass season for me, it’s one tournament, pretty cut-throat. It’s allowing myself time to feel relaxed on the court, to learn about the surface, to continue to kind of find my rhythm and find my groove again. I felt really sharp today.”