World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty attempts to become the first local woman to make the Australian Open final in four decades when she faces Sofia Kenin in the semi-finals on Thursday.
Ashleigh Barty ?? vs Sofia Kenin ?? Match Info
Date: Thursday January 30
Tournament: Australian Open SF
Court: Rod Laver Arena
Time: 2.00pm local time (3.00am GMT)
Ashleigh Barty vs Sofia Kenin Head-to-Head
Barty leads 4-1
2019 | Wuhan R16 | Barty 6-3 7-5
2019 | Canada R32 | Kenin 6-7(5) 6-3 6-4
2019 | French Open R16 | Barty 6-3 3-6 6-0
2019 | Fed Cup R1 | Barty 6-1 7-6(2)
2018 | Charleston R64 | Barty 6-3 6-2
Ashleigh Barty vs Sofia Kenin Match Preview
Barty brings a dominant 4-1 record into her Australian Open semi-final with Kenin as the World No. 1 looks to make history and become the first Aussie woman since Wendy Turnbull in 1980 to reach the final of their home slam.
It’s been an extremely solid tournament for Barty so far, with the 23-year-old coming through a number of dangerous and in-form players. Barty started her campaign with a three-set victory over Lesia Tsurenko after winning the Adelaide International title just two days earlier and has gotten better with every match, taking out Polona Hercog and Hobart champion Elena Rybakina in straight sets, before overcoming Wimbledon conquerer Alison Riske in three sets in the fourth round.
Barty got some more revenge in the quarter-finals on Tuesday as she defeated Petra Kvitova in a rematch of last year’s last-eight showdown at Melbourne Park. Barty weathered a first-set storm from Kvitova as the Czech absolutely unleashed some ferocious returning on her serve, but after saving a set point to take it in a tiebreak it was one-way traffic, with the Aussie swiftly racing out to a 4-0 lead in the second before claiming the match by a 7-6(6) 6-2 scoreline, earning her 150th tour-level victory as a result.
“I’m here to try and do the best that I can,” Barty said when asked about challenging for the title. “Obviously it’s exciting. Hopefully I can bring a smile to a few faces around our country and around the world. For me, it’s trying to do the best that I can, find that enjoyment for myself and my team.”
Barty is currently on a nine-match winning streak dating back to her Adelaide title triumph as she prepares to play her first hardcourt major semi-final.
2019 was a perfect season for Barty as she won her first Grand Slam at Roland Garros, first Premier Mandatory at Miami and first WTA Finals crown in Shenzhen, ending the season as the undisputed World No. 1. Backing up all of that in 2020 is going to be a serious challenge, especially with the depth on the WTA Tour presently, but if January is anything to go by, Barty will be right up to the test. Can she now become the first Australian woman since 1980 to make the final in Melbourne?
Kenin stands in her way in the final four. The 21-year-old has been building towards a Grand Slam breakthrough for the last season, but this is a big step up in class when you consider she hasn’t even faced a seed on her way to a first major semi-final, accounting for a pair of qualifiers in her first two rounds – Martina Trevisan and Ann Li – former quarter-finalist Zhang Shuai in the third round, 15-year-old Coco Gauff in the Round of 16 and unseeded Tunisian trailblazer Ons Jabeur in the quarter-finals. That’s a fairly fortunate route to a Grand Slam semi-final, but take nothing away from Kenin – she was the one to step up in this quarter of the draw and she has been far the steadiest player in her section.
“Of course, I’m really happy,” Kenin said. “I’ve worked really hard to get to where I am. I’ve done a really hard pre-season. I knew that it’s going to help me and it’s going to pay off. Thank God it’s paying off here.”
After breaking into the top 100 for the first time in 2018, Kenin enjoyed a rapid rise in 2019, winning three WTA titles in Hobart, Mallorca and Guangzhou, beating Serena Williams to make the French Open fourth round and making back-to-back semi-finals in Toronto and Cincinnati, where she beat No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and No. 1 Naomi Osaka to become the first player since 2001 to defeat reigning World No. 1s in consecutive weeks. Kenin would qualify for the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai to finish the season at No. 14 – and if she beats Barty, she’ll crack the top 10 for the first time.
Ashleigh Barty vs Sofia Kenin Prediction
Barty has won four of their five previous meetings, with her only loss coming after Wimbledon in Canada when she was still coming to terms with being No. 1 and a Grand Slam champion. While Kenin’s consistent baseline game is enough to break down most players, Barty is more than happy to rally from the back of the court, while her variety and court craft forces the American into uncomfortable positions, forcing her into error as a result. If she can hold her nerve and handle the weight of a nation on her shoulders, Barty will be advancing into the Australian Open final on Thursday.