TennisSection previews the 2022 Australian Open as Ashleigh Barty takes on Madison Keys in the semifinal on Thursday, January 27th, 2022.
Ashleigh Barty is looking to eliminate her third American opponent on the trot when she takes on Madison Keys. Will Barty create history at the Australian Open? Or will Keys put the cat amongst the pigeons and silence the host city?
Ashleigh Barty’s serene progress at the 2022 Australian Open is showing no signs of ending. Barty recorded another emphatic performance to knock off Jessica Pegula 6-2 6-0 in 63 minutes. She barely broke sweat and tore Pegula to shreds. The Australian World No. 1 outwitted and outthought the number 21 seed in every department, striking 17 winners and winning 81% first-serve points. It was another bad day at the office for Pegula whose second straight quarterfinal appearance in Melbourne ended in agony. Now Barty’s focus will be on Madison Keys as she looks to reach her first final at her home Slam.
Madison Keys, meanwhile, is into the Australian Open semifinal for the first time since 2015. Long touted to take over the reins as tennis’ next superstar in the women’s circuit, Keys is yet to fulfill her tennis promise. But it is not all doom and gloom. At 26, there is no reason why the American power-hitter cannot go on and enjoy her most fruitful years ahead. Under the tutelage of Georgi Rumenov since the start of the year, the direct message from the new coach is to focus on the next point. And the American is reaping handsome rewards. Keys is destroying every ball in her sight and powered past French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova in Monday’s quarterfinal without so much resistance.
Ashleigh Barty and Madison Keys have played three times before, with Barty leading the head-to-head 2-1. Two of their meetings were played at the French Open, tied at one win apiece. However, they haven’t played each other since the 2019 season – at the clay slam where Barty went on to lift the title. Barty is not only looking to win her first Australian Open crown this weekend, but she intends to do so in style. From one picture-perfect performance to another, Barty has laid down a marker to all her opponents. The manner in which Barty delivered that straight-sets hammering to Pegula, I find it hard to entertain the idea of Keys pulling off the upset. The American has done remarkably well to get to this stage, but the World No. 1 is inching closer to that title that she can actually smell it.
Free Tennis Pick and Prediction: Ashleigh Barty in straight sets.
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