‘Back to basics’ Barty eyes World No.1

Australian top seed Ashleigh Barty has progressed to the semi-finals of the Cincinnati Open after battling back from a set down to beat Maria Sakkari.

Barty, who also had to recover from losing the opening set before edging Estonian Anett Kontaveit in the previous round, surged to a 4-1 advantage in the first set on Friday and appeared on her way to an easy triumph. But Sakkari had other ideas.

Ash Barty roared back after losing the first set against Maria Sakkari. Picture: Getty Images/AFPSource:AFP

The Greek, using a variety of backhand winners that resulted in mounting unforced errors by Barty, wrestled control to take the set.

In explaining the turnaround, Barty said, “I started the match well and I went away from what was working. Maria took some risks that paid off.”

The second saw a reversal of form with Barty cleaning up her errors and effectively employing a backhand slice that deserted her in the opener.

“It was important for me at the start of the second set to go back to basics and what worked before,” the 23-year-old Barty said.

A focused Barty had to dig deep. Picture: Getty Images/AFPSource:AFP

Our Ash thanks the crowd after her win. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images


“I had to serve well, and not give her too many looks at second serves.

“I tried to bring in my slice to change the tempo of the match.”

With 11 winners and just four unforced errors she easily took the set.

Sakkari was no match in the third as Barty raced through for the win. French Open champion Barty, currently world No.2, can reclaim the world top spot by reaching the tournament final in the US Open warm-up event.

She now faces Karolina Pliskova or Svetlana Kuznetsova in the last four but added: “I’m just keeping my eye on the ball and if I win matches, the ranking will take care of itself.”

Sakkari and Barty hug after the match. Picture: Getty Images/AFPSource:AFP

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Originally published as‘Back to basics’ Barty eyes World No.1

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