Barty 'not done yet' in bid for Open glory

World No.1 Ash Barty has powered into the Australian Open quarter-finals for a third straight year.
World No.1 Ash Barty has powered into the Australian Open quarter-finals for a third straight year.

World No.1 Ash Barty has become the first local hope in 37 years to reach three consecutive Australian Open quarter-finals after thumping American Shelby Rogers in straight sets.

Barty made a fast start and kept her cool after a mini second-set fightback from Rogers to secure the 6-3 6-4 win in 71 minutes on Monday night.

The 2019 French Open champion will meet Czech world No.27 Karolina Muchova on Wednesday for a spot in the semi-finals.

Muchova beat Elise Mertens 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 to move into the final eight.

Barty had an 11-month layoff during the COVID-19 pandemic, but she has embarked on a sizzling 8-0 run since returning to the court.

The 24-year-old won the Yarra Valley Classic earlier this month, and she has now booked a third straight quarter-final appearance at the Australian Open.

The last local hope to have such a hot run at the Australian Open was Wendy Turnbull, who reached five quarter-finals in a row from 1980-84.

Barty, who reached the Australian Open semi-finals last year, still has unfinished business.

"We're not done yet," Barty said.

"It's exciting to be in another quarter-final of another grand slam, particularly here in Australia. To have the start that we've had so far is really encouraging, but certainly not satisfied with where we're at at the moment."

Both players entered the match without having dropped a set in the tournament.

Barty led the head-to-head battle 2-0, but their most recent meeting earlier this month was a tough encounter at the Yarra Valley Classic that was decided by a match tiebreak.

There was no crowd on hand to spur Barty on, but she was still able to make a fast start to shoot out to a 4-1 lead.

Barty's ability to turn a series of defensive scrambles into offensive forehands proved crucial.

She saved two break points in the seventh game and didn't give Rogers another sniff on the way to sealing the first set in 29 minutes.

The unforced errors continued to mount for Rogers in the second set, with Barty snaring consecutive breaks to put her opponent on the brink at 5-1.

The only blemish for Barty came when she was up 5-2 in the second and serving for the match at 40-15.

She committed a series of unforced errors to hand a break back to Rogers, but made amends in her next service game to clinch victory.

"I knew it was going to be vital to serve well tonight, that was something I really wanted to try to focus on," Barty said.

"And just to give myself a chance to be in control of points. Because there were a couple of runs of points, runs of games in our match last week that Shelby was able to get on a roll and run away with it a little bit.

"So I was trying to avoid that and bring it back on my terms as much as I could, and try to be the aggressor when I could as well."

Australian Associated Press