Barty ready for Keys challenge
Ash Barty's impressive rise is earning widespread praise from some of the greats of the sport.
Gabriela Sabatini is the latest tennis great to jump on the Ash Barty bandwagon as the Australian chases a spot in the French Open semifinals.
Eighth-seeded Barty jousts with American 14th seed Madison Keys in the opening match on Court Suzanne-Lenglen on Wednesday night, having carved her way through to the last eight for the first time in Paris.
Rod Laver has already said Barty “can go all the way” and win her maiden major on Saturday, while three-time champion Arantxa Sanchez Vicario declared the world No.8 as the most feared player in the draw because of the “amazing variety” in her game.
Now it seems Barty has caught Sabatini’s eye during her stellar breakout season.
“I like Barty, the Australian player. I like her very much,” the former US Open champion said.
“I saw her (win) in Miami. I really like the way she plays – her slice, backhand slice, I like very much. She’s a very strategic player.”
But to continue her quest to become Australia’s first singles champion in Paris since Margaret Court in 1973, Barty must reverse a 6-3 6-2 first-round hammering at the hands of Keys at Roland Garros two years ago – in a match she would love to forget.
Barty is a vastly different player now, as evidenced by her straight-sets win over Keys during her unbeaten run in Fed Cup this year.
“So I think it’s very much a fresh, clean slate from this match (like it was) at Fed Cup that we had as well,” she said.
“Different surface. I mean, as different as you can probably get, indoor hard to an outdoor clay court.”
After taking out Serena Williams’ third-round slayer in her last match, Barty can repeat her Fed Cup double of the two Americans in back-to-back encounters, having beaten Sofia Kenin and Keys on successive days in February.
Story time. 📖
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 4, 2019
Victory over last year’s semifinalist and 2017 US Open runner-up Keys would also continue Barty’s steady progression at the Slams.
Barty has advanced one round better at each of the past three majors, following up a third-round effort at Wimbledon last year with a first-time foray to the last 16 in New York and then charging into the Australian Open quarterfinals in January.
“She’s obviously had really good success here in the past,” Barty said.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for me to go out there and try and play my brand of tennis again, and take it to her as much as I can.”
Barty or Keys will back up on Thursday against either defending champion Simona Halep or American teenager Amanda Anisimova for a place in the final.
Brit Johanna Konta and 19-year-old Czech Marketa Vondrousova will contest the other semifinal.
In Day 10 action, Sam Stosur’s doubles run ended in the quarterfinals. Stosur and Chinese partner Zhang Shuai lost an Australian Open final rematch to second seeds Kristina Mladenovic of France and Timea Babos of Hungary in a final-set tiebreak.
John Peers’ tournament is also over, eliminated in the mixed doubles quarterfinals alongside Zhang.
Canberra teen Annerly Poulos scored a sensational second-round win in the girls’ singles competition, upsetting second seed Diane Parry. The French player had reached the second round of the women’s singles draw earlier in the tournament.
Big result for Annerly Poulos knocking out the No.2 seed in the junior girls event at Roland Garros. Her opponent (Parry) made the 2nd round of the main draw. Annerly is being coached by @JaslynHewitt in Paris who is doing a ripping job at @TennisAustralia based in NSW 👏🇦🇺
— Darren Cahill (@darren_cahill) June 4, 2019
Aussie results– Day 10
 Timea Babos (HUN)/Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) d  Sam Stosur/Shuai Zhang (CHN) 3-6 6-1 7-6(3)
 Mate Pavic (CRO)/Gabriela Dabrowski (CAN) d  John Peers/Shuai Zhang (CHN) 1-6 7-5 [10-8]
Mark Philippoussis/James Blake (USA) d Arnaud Clement (FRA)/Nicolas Escude (FRA) 6-3 7-5
Annerly Poulos d  Diane Parry (FRA) 6-3 6-4
 Melodie Collard (CAN)/Leylah Annie Fernandez (CAN) d Annerly Poulos/Zhuoxuan Bai (CHN) 6-3 7-5
Flavio Cosbolli (ITA)/Dominic Stephan Stricker (SUI) d  Rinky Hijikata/Filip Cristian Jianu (ROU) 7-6(4) 6-3
Aussies in action – Day 11
 Ash Barty v  Madison Keys (USA), Court Suzanne-Lenglen, first match (10pm AEST start)
Annerly Poulos v Daria Snigur (UKR), Court 13, third match