Melbourne, Jan 27 (AP) Ash Barty ended a long drought by reaching the Australian Open final with a 6-1, 6-3 win over unseeded Madison Keys.
She still has one to go.
Barty is the first Australian woman to reach the singles final of her home Grand Slam tournament since Wendy Turnbull in 1980. No Australian has won the title since Chris O'Neil in 1978.
The top-ranked Barty conceded only 17 games on her way to the semifinals and continued her strong form by beating Keys, the 2017 U.S. Open runner-up.
Barty hit 20 winners to only eight for Keys. She converted four of her six break-point opportunities, and saved the only two break points she faced on her serve. In six matches so far a the tournament, she has dropped one service game.
Barty has won major titles on grass at Wimbledon and on clay at the French Open, and is one win away from adding another on a hard court.
“It's unreal. Honestly, it's just incredible,” Barty said in her on-court TV interview. "I love coming out here and playing in Australia.
“As an Aussie, we're exceptionally spoiled we get to play in our own back yard. Now we have a chance to play for a title. It's unreal.”
Barty will next play Saturday against either 2020 French Open champion Iga Switek or 2019 Australian Open semifinalist Danielle Collins. That match was later Thursday on Rod Laver Arena.
While Barty is potentially one win away from giving the host nation a title, there's a guaranteed win in another competition.
Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis, dubbed “Special K,” ensured an all-Australian men's doubles final with 7-6 (4), 6-4 win over third-seeded Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos in a nearly full Rod Laver Arena. Fans were allowed into the main stadium with grounds passes during the day session and didn't need stadium tickets for the afternoon session.
On a near-empty adjoining Margaret Court Arena, Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell beat the second-seeded team of Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury 6-3, 7-6 (9).
Also on Day 11, Dylan Alcott's farewell tournament ended with a loss in the wheelchair quad final to Sam Schroder of the Netherlands.
Alcott was named Australian of the Year at celebrations for the national day and attended a ceremony in the capital of Canberra between his win in the semifinals and the final.
Alcott retires with 15 Grand Slam titles in wheelchair quad. He completed an unprecedented Golden Slam last year, winning all four majors as well as the Tokyo Paralympics gold medal.
After her win, Barty paid tribute to Alcott's career.
“He's inspired a nation,” said Barty, who watched the wheelchair quad final with her physiotherapist.
“We were watching his match today (and) when he was saying his acceptance speech, we were crying. I couldn't be more proud of him.” (AP)
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