Ashleigh Barty to face Danielle Collins in Australian Open final

Home hope defeats Keys 6-1, 6-3 while American knocks out Swiatek 6-4, 6-1

It took Ashleigh Barty only 62 minutes to defeat Madison Keys in the Australian Open semi-finals at Melbourne Park. Getty
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Ashleigh Barty's relentless form continued on Thursday when she crushed American Madison Keys 6-1, 6-3 in the Australian Open semi-finals.

Barty, one win away from ending Australia's 44-year wait for a home-grown champion, continued her remarkable run over the past two weeks in Melbourne Park and has reached the final without dropping a set, losing just 21 games in six matches along the way.

Australia has been waiting for a women’s singles finalist since Wendy Turnbull back in 1980, with Chris O’Neal the last home champion in the women’s or men’s singles two years earlier.

Barty will now take on first-time Grand-Slam finalist Danielle Collins, who was almost as emphatic in defeating seventh seed Iga Swiatek 6-4, 6-1.

Keys had blasted her way through the draw, taking out two top-10 seeds in Paula Badosa and Barbora Krejcikova in the last two rounds, but top seed Barty has looked a class apart in Melbourne.

Shots from Keys that would have been winners against almost anyone else came back with interest, forcing the nervous 26-year-old to go for more, and to miss.

The first set was over in just 26 minutes and, while Keys steadied the ship a little at the start of the second, Barty broke again to move 4-2 in front.

Keys’ attempts to put pressure on her opponent by coming to the net simply gave Barty a target to pass, and the home favourite marched into her third Grand Slam final.

Barty, 25, is looking to add to her 2020 French Open and 2021 Wimbledon titles and is now on an ominous 10-match win streak to start the year.

“Honestly, it's just incredible. I'm just happy I get to play my best tennis here,” said Barty.

“The ball was a little slower tonight, heavier off the strings. I just tried to run and adapt, make as many balls as I could and keep Maddie under the pump on her serve because she has the ability to really take it away from you quickly.”

Barty paid tribute to Keys, a former top-10 player who is on the rise again after difficult couple of years. “It's just so nice to see her back where she belongs,” said Barty. “You see the way she carries herself on the court. She looks you in the eye, gives you a good handshake and that's what I love about her. She's an amazing human being.”

Next up for Barty will be 27th seed Collins, who was playing in only her second Slam semi-final — after also making the last four in Melbourne in 2019 — and has returned to the top of the game following endometriosis surgery last spring.

The 28-year-old’s brand of first-strike tennis was simply too much for Pole Swiatek, who won only three points on her second serve during the match.

Swiatek fought hard to come back after losing the first four games but Collins held on to take the opening set and kept her foot firmly to the floor in the second.

“It feels amazing. It has been such a journey,” said Collins. “It is so many years of hard work … to be on this stage, especially after all the health challenges. I couldn't be happier.

“To play the world number one in her home country will be spectacular. The energy the crowd will bring, whether it's for me or against me, it will be an incredible.”

Updated: January 27, 2022, 11:51 AM