By Eleanor Crooks, PA Tennis Correspondent, Melbourne
Ashleigh Barty defeated Madison Keys to become the first Australian woman to reach the final of her home grand slam for more than 40 years.
The world number one went into the semi-final on an expectant Rod Laver Arena having not come close to dropping a set all tournament and eased to a 6-1 6-3 victory in only 62 minutes.
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.
🆎solute BEAUTY 🇦🇺@ashbarty becomes the first Australian women’s singles finalist at the #AusOpen since 1980!
Defeats Keys 6-1, 6-3 and will face the winner of Collins-Swiatek for the title 🏆 pic.twitter.com/EVLzteae3O
— wta (@WTA) January 27, 2022
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 Barty has looked a class apart all fortnight.
The 25-year-old reads the game so well, glides around the court and possesses a complete arsenal of weapons.
Shots from Keys that would have been winners against almost anyone else came back with interest, forcing the nervous American 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.