By Ros Satar

  • Ashleigh Barty [1] v Sofia Kenin [14]
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Ashleigh Barty and Sofia Kenin face each other again in a Slam, this time with a lot more at stake.

 

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Ashleigh Barty [1] v Sofia Kenin [14] | Barty leads H2H 4-1

All of Australia will be holding its breath when Ashleigh Barty kicks off her bid to become the first Australian woman since Wendy Turnbull to reach the final (1980). Standing in front of her is the fearless and feisty Sofia Kenin, who has been efficiently making her way through the draw, largely under the radar.

Both are already experiencing their best Australian Open in reaching the semi-finals, and Kenin might hold on to the fact that she beat an Aussie to win her most recent title at the end of last year, beating Sam Stosur in Guangzhou.

Barty’s preparation might have started falteringly with the World No. 1 falling in her Brisbane opener, only for her to put that firmly behind her with a win in Adelaide.

There have been a couple of challenges for Barty, coming from a set down in her opener and being tested by Alison Riske in the fourth round, but she was mightily impressive as she got a little measure of revenge over Petra Kvitova for her defeat to the Czech at the same stage last year.

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Kenin has only been taken the distance once, against the teen sensation Coco Gauff, but her comeback from a set down was decisive, especially in the third set where she denied Gauff even a game. Again there is a little Slam history here as Kenin, who had halted Serena Williams at the French Open last year came unstuck against the eventual champion Barty in the fourth round.

Barty’s all court game gives her an advantage with her forehand being a formidable weapon together with the variety in her arsenal of shots – basically any and every shot in the book. Kenin has a fair bit of weight behind her ground-strokes but maybe lacks the variety, but she will get up in Barty’s grill throughout the match. She is more than happy to take on the crowd too.

Kenin has only managed to get the better of Barty once in five attempts, in Toronto last year but she had to take her the distance to do so, and this has all the hallmarks of being another three-setter.

Prediction: Barty in three sets.

 

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