There seems to be no stopping Ashleigh Barty at the moment.
The 25-year-old raced into the Australian Open final on Thursday after crushing American Madison Keys 6-1 6-3 in just over an hour on court.
Barty has yet to drop a set in the tournament and Australia is now anticipating a first home Australian Open singles champion since 1978.
She will face Danielle Collins in Saturday’s final after the American beat Iga Swiatek in straight sets – 6-4 6-1 – later on Thursday.
“It’s just unreal,” Barty said after the match.
“As an Aussie, we are spoiled that we are a grand slam nation, and now we have a chance to play for a title.”
‘See what happens’ in final
The first set was over in a flash with Barty using her experience and devastating serve to claim it in just 26 minutes.
Keys, who was playing in her first Australian Open semifinal since 2015, struggled to get started in the match but put up some opposition in the second set.
Despite a few impressive winners from the American, it was Barty who was in total control from start to finish.
The Australian crowd roared after Barty hit the winner at match point as they watched her become the first Australian to reach the women’s single final at this event since 1980.
And Barty won’t be very tired, either. She has only spent just over six hours on court during the year’s first grand slam and has never looked in trouble.
But the Australian won’t be able to take the final for granted given the form of her opponent.
Collins, making her comeback from serious health issues, was impressive against Swiatek and looked ready to compete in her first grand slam final.
The 28-year-old American barely celebrated her semifinal win but, behind a stoney face, said she is excited for the biggest match of her life.
“It feels amazing. It has been such a journey,” she said after the match.
“It is so many years of hard work. Yesterday, I spoke about all the early mornings my Dad would get up and practice with me before school. It is incredible to be on this stage, especially after all the health challenges. I couldn’t be happier.”
Collins has always been candid about her health struggles and says the pain from her endometriosis – a condition where the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside of it – was some of the worst she’s ever experienced.
For Barty, though, this is just another chapter in an incredible career.
Having enjoyed a stellar junior career, she took a break from tennis in 2014, later saying that the sport had become “robotic” and that she was a “victim of my own success.”
She turned to cricket and earned a contract as an all-rounder with Brisbane Heat back in Australia, before returning to tennis in 2016.
She went on to win her first grand slam at the French Open in 2019 before taking another break from the sport during the Covid-19 pandemic.
She is now producing some of the best tennis of her life and is certainly the one to beat on the women’s tour.