It was fun while it lasted but the “Barty Party” at the Australian Open came to an end courtesy of a tenacious American, and the home court hopeful’s disastrous errors in a normally strong area of her game.
Sofia Kenin beat top-ranked Ashleigh Barty 7-6 (8-6), 7-5 in the women’s semifinals in scorching Melbourne to extend Australia’s wait for a home winner at the year’s opening major.
This weekend she’ll face the resurgent Garbine Muguruza, who defeated Simona Halep in a bruising battle between the Wimbledon and French Open champions.
In temperatures that hovered around 40 degrees Celsius – play was almost suspended according to the tournament’s heat scale – Barty’s unforced error count, unusually, climbed.
By the conclusion, it reached a whopping 36 coupled with 33 winners.
Renown for having one of the best, if not the best, backhand slice on tour, that shot faltered into the net on numerous occasions as Barty attempted to lure Kenin forward.
Two of her four set points in the clash dissipated courtesy of a backhand slice unforced error and forehand unforced error.
“I’m two points away from winning that in straight sets, which is disappointing,” Barty said.
“Yeah, it’s disappointing, but it’s been a hell of a summer.”
Barty’s heartwarming press-conference
Barty said the hot conditions weren’t a factor, citing the fact she grew up in near hot and humid Brisbane.
And she discounted feeling the pressure of trying to win at home.
“I’ve been in a grand slam semifinal before,” Barty said.
“Yes, it’s different at home. I enjoyed the experience. Yeah, I love being out there. I’ve loved every minute of playing in Australia over the last month.
Exclusive hawkeye vision of Ash Barty’s critical non-review
“I didn’t feel super comfortable. I felt like my first plan wasn’t working. I couldn’t execute the way that I wanted. I tried to go to B and C,” Barty said.
“I try and go out and play the way I want to play. If it doesn’t work, I know I have different tools I can go to.
“I tried to go to those tools today. Unfortunately I couldn’t quite scrap enough to get over the line.”
Stream every match and every court of the Australian Open on 9Now, plus watch full replays.