Sport Tennis Australian Open ‘We’ll certainly kick back with a beer’: Last Aussie left in Open singles bows out but vows to celebrate

‘We’ll certainly kick back with a beer’: Last Aussie left in Open singles bows out but vows to celebrate

Ashleigh Barty was outclassed by Petra Kvitova on Tuesday night but could still smile. Photo: Getty
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They are not words you expect to hear from a player beaten in their first grand slam quarter-final, but Ashleigh Barty was not letting disappointment overshadow a terrific month of tennis.

“I think we’ll certainly kick back with a beer tonight and be able to celebrate,” the 22-year-old told a busy media conference on Tuesday evening.

After all, Barty – beaten 6-1 6-4 at Melbourne Park by Petra Kvitova – has broken new ground in January.

She followed up an appearance in the Sydney International final with a run to the last eight of the Open that highlighted her obvious potential.

Barty has thrived in the limelight at Melbourne Park. Photo: Getty

Barty’s court coverage, in particular, stood out as she became the first Australian woman to reach the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park in 10 years.

An 18-month break from tennis from 2014 to 2016 means Barty still has more improvement left in her and it would surprise no one to see her better her Open effort in 2020.

Her grand slam performances are steadily improving, with this latest achievement following on from appearances in the third round at Wimbledon and the fourth round at the US Open last year.

A clash with Kvitova was a bridge too far for Barty on this occasion, though, the Czech star bursting out of the blocks.

The 28-year-old, who has two grand slam titles to her name, raced through the opening set, breaking at the first opportunity and smashing 12 winners.

The left-hander was striking the ball as she pleased and a stunned silence came over the Rod Laver Arena crowd at the conclusion of the first set – that lasted just 27 minutes – as they contemplated what they had just seen.

“Petra took the crowd out of it … I knew she would be trying to do that,” Barty said.

Barty gave the fans something to cheer about when she held in comfortable fashion to start the second set. And in each of Kvitova’s first two service games, the Australian had a break point.

She was unable to convert any of those opportunities, though, and Kvitova showed off her ruthlessness when she took advantage of the only break she had for the set.

That gave the World No.6 the chance to serve for the match, one she gleefully accepted.

Victory saw Kvitova reach her first grand slam semi-final since she was stabbed in the hands in a terrifying home invasion in 2016.

She was emotional on court when asked what the moment meant to her and Barty was typically classy when asked to comment on Kvitova’s progression.

“She’s an amazing human being. I think she’s beginning to play her best tennis again,” Barty said.

“She’s certainly got the game and the attitude to be able to take it to anyone but most importantly, I think from all of the girls in the locker room, it’s amazing just to see her back out here. It wasn’t the same when she wasn’t here.”

Nothing was shaking Barty’s upbeat mood.

“I think I’ve done everything that I can [in Melbourne],” she added.

“I finished the season of 2018 with a title. I’ve had my best start to 2019. Certainly no complaints from here.”

Nadal through in straight sets, too

Spaniard Rafael Nadal produced perhaps his best performance of the Open with a 6-3 6-4 6-2 win over rising star Frances Tiafoe on Tuesday evening.

He needed just 107 minutes to compile the triumph and was brilliant on serve as the unseeded American’s dream run ended.

Nadal’s display was ominous for his rivals and he broke Tiafoe in his first service game of each set en route to a comfortable win.

The 17-time grand slam winner is conserving energy, too, his latest win his fifth in a row at the tournament without dropping a set.

“He’s a hell of a player, man,” Tiafoe said afterwards.

Also on Tuesday, Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-2), while Danielle Collins came from behind to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in three sets.

Collins won 2-6 7-5 6-1 in two hours and 16 minutes.

De Minaur to lead Australia in Davis Cup

In a media release sent after 10.30pm on Tuesday (AEDT), Tennis Australia announced that Alex de Minaur, John Millman, Jordan Thompson, John Peers and Alexei Popyrin would feature in Australia’s team for next month’s Davis Cup tie against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

There was no room for Nick Kyrgios, Bernard Tomic or Thanasi Kokkinakis, as expected.

Alex Bolt will also travel with the team for the tie, which will be held in Adelaide on February 1 and 2.

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