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Barty unlocks Keys to reach maiden Australian Open final

australian open
Ashleigh Barty this year became the first local to win the Australian Open since 1978

Ash Barty stood one win away from ending Australia’s 44-year wait for a home-grown champion after she defeated American Madison Keys 6-1 6-3 in the Australian Open semi-final on Thursday.

The Wimbledon champion continued her remarkable run during the past fortnight in Melbourne Park and reached the final without dropping a set, losing just 21 games in six matches.

Victory on Saturday would make Barty the first local to win the Australian Open since Chris O’Neil in 1978.

Barty, who is the first Australian to reach a final at home since Lleyton Hewitt in 2005, will play either seventh seed Iga Swiatek or American 27th seed Danielle Collins in the decider.

Barty said she cannot wait to play on Saturday.

“Absolutely. Let’s do it,” a beaming Barty said on court. “It is unreal. Honestly, it is just incredible.

“I love coming out here and playing in Australia and, as an Aussie, we are exceptionally spoiled that we are a Grand Slam nation (and) we get to play in our backyard and I am just happy that I get to play my best tennis here.

“I’ve done well before and now we have a chance to play for a title. It is unreal.”

She paid tribute to her American opponent, who endured a difficult 2021 but has started the season brightly.

“It is just so nice to see her back where she belongs. She is an amazing human being,” she said.

“You see the way she carries herself on the court. She smiles and she gives it her best. But I love most that she is a great person. We really respect her and we love her.”

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