Sunday, September 20, 2020 | ePaper

Barty, Jabeur out to extend Melbourne runs with history in sight

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Top seed Ashleigh Barty steps up her bid to end the host country's title drought and Tunisia's Ons Jabeur is chasing more history in the Australian Open quarter-finals on Tuesday.
The world number one Barty is under huge pressure to win in Melbourne-the last time an Australian woman triumphed in their home Grand Slam was Chris O'Neil in 1978.
But the 23-year-old, the reigning French Open champion, faces a stern test in 2019 finalist Petra Kvitova, and Barty has not had it all her own way in Melbourne.
She needed three sets to win her opener against Ukraine's 120th-ranked Lesia Tsurenko and was also pushed to three on Sunday against 18th-seeded American Alison Riske.
Barty said conditions play their part in Melbourne, where there has been pollution, heavy rain, wildly fluctuating temperatures and, on Sunday, some breezes.
"It could be cold, raining, roofs closed. All these variables that come into it," said Barty.
"Year in, year out, it's about trying to be consistent every single match, trying to be present every single match, not thinking about what's happened before, not thinking about what's to come."
Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova presents a major threat.
The Czech seventh seed and the Australian played five times last year, with Kvitova winning the first three and Barty the last two.
Tellingly, the 29-year-old Kvitova beat Barty in the quarter-finals last year at Melbourne Park, 6-1, 6-4.
"I love Petra, but let's hope she doesn't break my heart on Tuesday," Barty said after getting through against Riske.
But Barty is a better player than 12 months ago. She won her maiden Grand Slam in June at the French Open and topped the world rankings for the first time.
She also defeated Kvitova, the 2011 and 2014 Wimbledon champion, in three sets in the semi-finals on her way to the title at the season-ending WTA Finals in Shenzhen.

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