MELBOURNE: Ashleigh Barty warned she will “make life difficult” as she closed on a first Australian Open title by dismantling giant-killer Amanda Anisimova on Sunday.
The steely Australian world number one won 6-4, 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena to halt the charge of the unseeded American, who stunned defending champion Naomi Osaka in round three.
Top-seed Barty, who is aiming to become Australia’s first women’s champion on home soil in 44 years, will now face 21st-seeded American Jessica Pegula in Tuesday’s quarterfinals.
“Each and every player, there are some similarities, but certainly tactics and the way that I want to play is unique to each and every player,” said the 25-year-old, an insight into the mindset of one of the best tacticians in tennis.
“I try and adapt my game as best as I can to try and make my opponent uncomfortable and that will be no different when Jess and I play in a couple days’ time.
“My job is to try and make her uncomfortable and hopefully I can execute that, have some fun with it, and make life difficult for her.”
Her clash with Anisimova was a rematch of the pair's memorable 2019 French Open semifinal.
Barty was staring down the barrel of defeat then after a first-set collapse, but fought back to win the match and eventually the Roland Garros title.
It proved to be a turning point in her career and she has now been world number one for 112 consecutive weeks.
Anisimova was only 17 at the time and fell down the rankings following the death of her father soon afterwards, but she has been rejuvenated this year.
Barty missed a break-point opportunity on Anisimova’s opening serve then was forced to save one on her own to keep the scores level at 2-2 after a rare double-fault.
A net volley set up two more break points on the next Anisimova serve as Barty again probed for an opening.
The relentless pressure paid off with some powerful ball-striking working a triple break point and this time she capitalised to move 4-3 ahead.
She wrapped up the set in 37 minutes, winning 84 percent of her first-serve points to Anisimova’s 67%.
But 60th-ranked Anisimova then did what no one else had managed this tournament – she broke Barty to end an incredible run of 63 consecutive service holds this year.
It was in vain as the Australian immediately broke back, utilising her slice and loopy forehands, then broke again for 4-3 and with Anisimova wavering, Barty powered home.
Barty said losing the win streak on her serve didn’t bother her.
“I’m not counting how many games I hold in a row or not,” she said.
“The fact I was able to reset, break straight back, was really important, just to be able to reset myself, go again and continue to do the right things.”
After shutting down her 2021 season after the US Open in September, Barty has been dominant this year. She returned at the Adelaide International to win the title and has only improved in Melbourne. – AFP