Ash Barty has delivered another serving masterclass to sweep past Madison Keys in straight sets and become the first home hope to reach the Australian Open women’s singles final in 42 years.
The world No.1 and dual grand slam champion crushed Keys 6-1 6-3 in 62 minutes on Thursday night to bury the demons of her shattering 2020 semi-final defeat to fellow American Sofia Kenin.
Barty is the first Australian to make the women’s Open title match since Wendy Turnbull in 1980 and will face either Iga Swiatek or Danielle Collins for the trophy on Saturday night.
The 25-year-old’s last hurdle in her quest to become the first local Open singles champion since Chris O’Neil in 1978 will be Poland’s 2020 French Open champion Swiatek or American world No.30 Collins.
And the top seed can once again thank her imperious serve for setting up the 10th victory of her glorious unbeaten summer.
Incredibly, Barty has dropped only one of her past 82 service games since her opening match of the year against Coco Gauff in Adelaide almost four weeks ago.
She is yet to drop a set this tournament tournament and has conceded just 21 games in 12 near-flawless matches.
Barty made a flying start to Thursday’s historic first women’s night-time semi-final, producing a brilliant running forehand pass to break Keys in the opening game.
She typically had no such troubles on her serve, rocketing down an ace on her very first delivery of the match and holding to love for a 2-0 lead.
The Wimbledon champion broke Keys for a second time in the fifth game, then a third time in the seventh game on the way to wrapping up the first set in 27 minutes.
Contesting her fourth grand slam semi-final, and second in Australia, Keys offered more resistance in the second set.
But there was no denying Barty as the hot title favourite repeated her 2019 French Open quarter-final triumph over Keys en route to her maiden grand slam title.