French Open: Ashleigh Barty 'speechless' after victory
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Ash Barty was almost perfect in her round of 16 match in Cincinnati. The world No 1 secured a 6-0 6-2 victory over the defending champion and her “best mate”, Victoria Azarenka. The Belarusian was noticeably frustrated as she won just two games during the 71-minute match. The recent Wimbledon winner will face another Grand Slam champion in the next round as she awaits the winner of a clash between Barboba Krejcikova and Garbine Muguruza.
Barty was playing just her second match since a shock first-round loss in the singles event at the Olympics.
The recent Wimbledon champion lost to unseeded Sara Sorribes Tormo in the first round of the Tokyo games, as the Spaniard secured a 6-4 6-3 victory over the Aussie.
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The Aussie came into the round of 16 clash leading the head-to-head against Azarenka, with two wins to the Belarusian’s one.
However, the world No 13 was the defending champion, having lifted the trophy when the Western & Southern Open was held in New York as a one-off last year, after her opponent Naomi Osaka withdrew ahead of the final with a hamstring injury.
Azarenka also made the finals of the US Open just weeks later, losing to Osaka from a set up, and had confidence on the North American hard courts.
The pair also knew each other’s game styles well coming into their Cincinnati match, having played doubles together in 2018.
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They won the Italian Open in Rome and made it all the way to the finals of the US Open when they partnered up for the season three years ago.
Ahead of their match, Barty praised the two-time Grand Slam champion and revealed she was one of her closest friends on tour.
“Vika’s one of the best competitors you’ll ever come across. For me, one of my best mates on the tour,” she said.
“Every time we play each other, we have a way of bringing out a really good level.”
Unfortunately, Azarenka was unable to find her best level during the match, as she quickly found herself 6-0 4-0 down, with the world No 1 just two points away from breaking to serve for the double-bagel.
Azarenka, a former world No 1 herself, was able to hold and received a loud cheer from the crowd as she secured her first game of the match.
Last year’s champion had three break point chances but was unable to convert, while Barty won five of the nine break points she had on Azarenka’s serve.
The Aussie also hit an impressive 25 winners, including six aces, and won 87% of her first serve points.
It could be a battle of the two most recent Major winners in the quarter-finals, as Barty will face either this year’s Roland Garros singles and doubles champion Krejcikova, or 2017 Wimbledon winner Muguruza.
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