Ashleigh Barty is through to the semifinals of the Australian Open for the second time in her career after beating Jessica Pegula 6-2 6-0.
This score isn’t a flash in the pan. She’s dropped only 17 games in the tournament, the most dominant run she’s had in her four runs to a Major semifinal.
Here’s everything you need to about the Aussie’s fantastic run so far.
Ashleigh Barty at the 2022 Australian Open
Despite dropping only 17 games, there have been peaks and troughs to Barty’s game. What has stayed fairly constant throughout however is Barty’s ability to start quickly.
Whether she’s starting the point, being particularly effective on serve and return…
- Her first opponent was Lesia Tsurenko, a Ukranian qualifier with a fairly weak serve that still managed to bagel a couple of her opponents in qualifying. Barty’s returning ability was so far ahead of any of the qualifiers, never gifting Tsurenko the ability to get up on a service point. She lost one game that match.
- 50% of Barty’s first serves aren’t being returned. One in two. Insane numbers that have made Barty’s serve being broken once this tournament.
… or if she’s starting the match, her ability to dig in early an underrated skill of hers…
- Has held serve and broken in every match apart from Anisimova’s.
- Recovered from 40-0 down on Pegula’s serve today to break early.
- Missed 3/32 returns in her opening return game over all five matches.
… whichever way you frame it, Barty is quick off the mark.
Slicing and Dicing
More so than ever, Barty’s slice has been messing with her opponents.
Against Pegula in particularly, we saw her ability to completely vary the slice:
- Short in the ad court, forcing Pegula to come forward where she wasn’t at all comfortable (3/12 net points won).
- Deep with sidespin in the deuce court, forcing Pegula to uncomfortably hook around the side of the ball, often drawing an error.
- Slow and cross-court, drawing a poor backhand slice from Pegula and setting up Barty’s heavy forehand.
With the potential for rain forecast on Thursday and the roof possibly closed, Barty’s slice will sit even lower in the court. Keys could have a lot of trouble playing with her usual unparalleled brand of aggression off tough low-sitting balls…
Gravity of Dominance
Dropping 17 games is decent but you might be prone to thinking this is a regular occurrence on the WTA Tour. There have been dominant runs in recent times at majors but the consistency required for just 17 games dropped… it’s not something we’ve seen for a while.
Barty's dropped 17 games en route to the final…
The last time any player dropped 17 or fewer games going into the semis of a major was in Serena Williams' 2013 US Open run…
That was 27 Slams ago 🤪
— Jack Edward (@ontheline_jack) January 25, 2022
Serena Williams went on to win the 2013 US Open. Swiatek and Raducanu at the 2020 French Open and 2021 US Open respectively are some recent dominant runs to semifinals that come to mind – they both dropped more games than Barty and went on to win the title.
Of course it’s no guarantee of victory but it’s not something that should be ignored for those trying to predict the match.
In short, Ashleigh Barty is in electric, unequalled, unprecedented form. Can she go all the way?
Main Photo from Getty.