Ash Barty continued her journey at the Australian Open Saturday. With no fans due to the 5-day lockdown in Mebourne, Barty created her own energy in blasting past the dangerous Ekaterina Alexandrova.
The French champion should no wobbles like she did in the last round against countrywoman Daria Gavrilova. Barty is now three wins from becoming the first Australian woman to win the Open since 1978.
Barty will now meet American star Shelby Rogers. The 28-year-old overcame a 4-1 first set hole to steamroll Anett Kontaveit 6-4, 6-3, winning 11 of the last 14 games to reach her first Australian Open fourth round.
In an all-Czech affair, Karolina Muchova upset former Australian Open semifinalist Karolina Pliskova 7-5, 7-5. Pliskova led 5-0 in the second before Muchova ran off seven games, saving multiple match points in the process.
“The feeling was not great from any of the matches here. Some were a little bit better, some were a little bit worse,” said Pliskova who hasn’t been deep at a Slam since her 2019 Australian run.
“I think overall, too many mistakes, too much panic in the rallies. I don’t know if it’s just not having any matches much lately, even last year. I don’t feel safe with anything that I was really doing on the court.”
Muchova reached her first Slam fourth round.
“I think I had a little lull in the start of the second set,” Muchova said. “But still, on her serve I had few breakpoints, I just didn’t use them. It’s about a few points. I just believed that I can still make it.
“I saw that she was a bit nervous and shaky. Definitely was as well about the head.”
Elise Mertens, a 6-1, 6-1 winner over Belinda Bencic, now meets Muchova.
Rogers’ compatriot Jen Brady stayed hot toughing out qualifier Kaja Juvan 6-1, 6-3. Brady hasn’t lost a set or even faced a set point in three matches. The US Open semifinalist will now be favored against Donna Vekic who ended the run of Kenin-conqueror Kaia Kanepi 5-7, 7-6(2), 6-4.
Elina Svitolina hard a tough first set before pulling away from Yulia Putintseva 6-4, 6-0 to reach the fourth round for a third time in Australia. Svitoina hasn’t dropped a set and will now face the red-hot Jessica Pegula who blew out Kristina Mladenovic 6-2, 6-1.
“I was expecting a tough battle today. We played some epic matches in the past. For me, was just important to play aggressive,” said Svitolina.
“She has a very different game style from what I played my last two rounds, so it wasn’t easy at the beginning to adjust. As soon as I was feeling better, I just stepped my game, and it was quite a comfortable win after.”
Svitolina just beat Pegula last month in Abu Dhabi in straight sets.
“We played in Abu Dhabi and it was close,” Pegula said. “Even though I lost in straights, I know with her, when I get my chances, I have to take them and do the best I can. I’m just going out there, playing my game and adapting when I need to. I’m just going to stick to my game plan and try to take my chances.”
The fourth round begins Sunday in Melbourne with an incredible schedule featuring Naomi Osaka against Garbine Muguruza, Serena Williams against Aryna Sabalenka and Simona Halep vs. Iga Swiatek.
Osaka and Muguruza have never played and nor have Serena and Sabalenka. Of course Halep and Swiatek have split French meetings the last two years.
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