World number one Ashleigh Barty stormed past the USA’s Jessica Pegula 6-2 6-0 to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open at the Rod Laver Arena.
The home favourite endured some wobbly moments in the first set with a few unforced errors but never looked in any real danger of a shock exit after breaking in the opening game.
Serving for the match, Barty had three match points to her name in the final game, and despite losing one of them, a long return from Pegula settled the contest in Barty’s favour.
Speaking during her on-court interview, Barty said: “That was solid tonight – I had a lot of fun out here. I was able to serve and find a lot of forehands in the centre of the court and not worry if I miss a couple.
“Jess is an incredible person, she’s a brilliant girl and I love to test myself against her – she made me play my best tennis. She definitely is a top 20 player.
“I’ve grown as a person [since 2020], I’m a more complete tennis player and have more experience in problem-solving on the court. I’m absolutely loving playing out here – it’s been a lot of fun so far so hopefully there’s a little more left.”
Barty will now do battle with Pegula’s compatriot Madison Keys in the semi-finals, with the American seeing off Barbora Krejcikova in straight sets to reach the final four.
“It’s so nice to have Maddy back playing her best tennis doing what she does best – she’s one of the most incredible girls in the locker room. We’ve played in all different circumstances – I can’t wait, I know it will be a good one,” Barty added.
Barty made the semi-finals of the 2020 Australian Open before being eliminated by eventual winner Sofia Kenin.