Sport Tennis Australian Open Tsitsipas storms into semis as former champ reveals key to a Barty victory
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Tsitsipas storms into semis as former champ reveals key to a Barty victory

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Ash Barty is looking to become the first Australian woman to reach the Australian Open semi-finals in 35 years. Photo: Getty
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Tennis legend Martina Navratilova has provided some advice to Ash Barty before Tuesday night’s quarter-final encounter with two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova: Nullify the left-hander’s serve.

Navratilova, who hoisted the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup three times among her haul of 18 grand slam singles titles, believes Barty has the ability to combat the potent serve of fellow Czech Kvitova.

Barty is gunning for her first grand slam singles semi-final berth. If she wins, she’ll be the first Australian woman to reach the Australian Open final four in 35 years.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday afternoon Greek giant killer Stefanos Tsitsipas, 20, became the first man to book a spot in the semi-finals when he defeated Spain’s Roberto Batista Agut 7-5 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-2).

“It all feels like a fairytale almost. I’m just living the dream, living what I’ve been working hard for,” Tsitsipas told Nine’s Jim Courier straight after the game.

“I feel a bit emotional but not too much because I know again I really worked hard to get here.”

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Stefanos Tsitsipas after beating Roberto Batista Agut on Tuesday. Photo: Getty

Tsitsipas said at the start of the year he was asked what his goals for 2019 are, and he joked to reach the semi-finals of a grand slam.

“I thought when I was answering this question I was crazy,” he said.

“No, it is real and it just happened.”

The young Greek was down a break in the first and third sets before winning both.

“I know that if I keep fighting and keep pushing myself more and more, I’ll get more chances. I respected that, continued playing. I believe I earned the performance,” Tsitsipas said.

His win had Greek fans roaring in the stands at Melbourne Park, where Barty will begin her match at 7pm.

Navratilova noted Kvitova’s serving performance in her fourth-round match against precocious American teenager Amanda Anisimova, where she fired down 86 per cent of her first serves and won 83 per cent of those points.

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Petra Kvitova’s swinging left-handed serve could cause Barty problems, Martina Navratilova says. Photo: Getty

She said Barty’s return game needs to be in tip-top shape if she wants to secure a remarkable centre court victory.

“Ash needs to take away that slice serve and not get beaten there, but the way Petra served the other day it’s going to be a hard one,” Navratilova said.
“She served great, she played great and the match is on Petra’s racquet – she’s got the game to beat just about anybody when she’s on.”
Wendy Turnbull was the last local woman to reach the Australian Open semi-finals, on the grass courts of Kooyong in 1984.
Former World No.2 Kvitova and Barty faced off at the Sydney International 10 days ago, where Kvitova prevailed in an enthralling clash 1-6 7-5 7-6 (7-3).
Navratilova applauded the Australian’s calculated old-school game plan that utilises heavily top spun groundstrokes, a stinging backhand slice and ventures to the net. She said Barty needs to find ways to rush her opponent into making errors.
“Everyone hits a great ball, so now the next step is someone who can come to the net and knock the ball away at the net, especially on the faster courts,” Navratilova said.
“Ash has to somehow neutralise the power and mix it up, but she’s got the shots to bother Petra and break up her rhythm so we’ll see.”
A quarter-final win for Barty will propel her into a career-first singles top-10 berth and give her a decent look in at a maiden grand slam singles final appearance.
She would face either unheralded American Danielle Collins or unseeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova if she reaches the semi-finals.
-with AAP