World No. 1 Ash Barty will face Kazakhstani 14th-ranked Elena Rybakina in the Adelaide International Final on Sunday after a dominant win over Iga Swiatek.
Polish star Swiatek, the 2021 Adelaide International winner, was unable to match the power and precision of Barty as she slumped to a first loss of 2021.
A dominant first set
After an early scare in the fourth game of the match, in which Swiatek had a break-point opportunity to make the score 3-1, Ash Barty would assert her dominance from thereafter.
Following the missed opportunity for Swiatek, Barty was able to then take two games in a row off Swiatek’s serve with two excellent forehand winners to take the score to 5-2.
The Australian won the final five games of the first set in a flurry as she hit 12 winners compared to Swiatek’s 13 unforced errors in contrasting fortunes.
A forehand smash allowed Barty to win the final game of the set to love to end it in just over 30 minutes.
Barty dominance continues as Swiatek resistance ends
The 2020 Roland Garros winner Swiatek broke Barty’s run of consecutive games won in the first game of the second set.
But it was Barty, who last night aced her way to victory over Sofia Kenin, who yet again exploited Swiatek’s serve in just the third game of the second set.
The fifth seed showed signs of fight throughout the set, holding her serve and playing a number of big shots at times.
Swiatek played a stunning smash in the fifth game of the set to give herself hope against Barty’s serve, but the Australian held on to take a 4-2 lead.
The Adelaide crowd were on their feet as the 2021 Wimbledon champion stormed home to a crushing win, 6-2 6-4.
‘I want to be Ash’
Speaking after the match, Barty was as humble as ever. The finalist was full of admiration for her opponents through the tournament so far.
“This tournament was exceptionally tough. Right the way through there were certainly no easy matches,” she said after wins against American’s Coco Gauff and Kenin.
“We (Barty and Swiatek) both played pretty well, and there was not a lot in it.”
Barty was full of praise for the crowd at Memorial Drive ahead of tomorrow, where she will also play a doubles final.
“This is unreal. It’s so much fun playing out here.
“Hopefully there’s a lot left in the tank tomorrow, a singles and doubles final to play at home – there’s nothing better.”
Barty was grateful to be able to spend the end of 2021, and the start of 2022, in her home country.
“You ask any Australian, this is the best time of the year,” she said as the crowd cheered.
“December is chaos. We enjoy a good preseason at home.
“It’s always really special to have Christmas at home.”
Australia’s best female tennis player said the most important thing was to be the best possible person first.
“I have goals and I have my dreams that I chase after. I want to be a good person,” she said.
“(I want to) be the best version of myself I can be, I want to be Ash, I want to be me, that’s all I can do.”
Barty will look to reclaim the Adelaide International title, that she won in 2020, on Sunday.
Kokkinakis’ dream home run ends at hands of Monfils
Backing up from last night’s stirring win over Mikael Ymer, Adelaide’s Thanasi Kokkinakis faced world No. 21 Gael Monfils for a spot in the Adelaide International Final.
The first set was even throughout, with both players saving two break points each as the score went to 5-5.
Monfils struggled with first serves, making just over 50%, but managed to hold all of his service games.
An error-riddled service game with the score at 5-6, and a brilliant passing forehand winner, ensured the Frenchman the first set as a loud cry of ‘allez’ echoed across a hushed Memorial Drive.
The greatest showman
Forever an entertainer, Monfils wowed the crowd at the start of the second set by missing an unnecessary, yet exhilarating, acrobatic backhand smash, before bouncing the ball between his legs to get some of the parochial South Australian’s on his side.
Kokkinakis dropped his first service game of the second set as Monfils stamped his authority on the contest.
With the score at 3-0, Kokkinakis bounced his racquet off the court which amazingly rebounded into his face. The incident left a mark of swelling under his right eye.
The 35-year-old top seed enjoyed his time on court and continued to generate his own energy.
Kokkinakis brought up a double-break point on Monfils’ serve, but was unable to convert as the No. 1 seed slipped to a 5-0 lead.
The final game of the match reached deuce on five occasions, with Kokkinakis fighting hard to avoid a second-set bagel, but it was to no avail.
Despite having the home crowd on his side, Kokkinakis was unable to recapture Friday night’s form and suffered a heartbreaking 7-5 6-0 loss.
Monfils will face 29th-ranked Russian Karen Khachanov in Sunday’s final.
Doubles’ runs end in Melbourne
Australian pair Destanee Aiava and Lizette Cabrera had their dream of winning the Melbourne Summer Set dashed on Saturday.
The young duo’s fairytale run ended to experienced Italian pair Sara Errani and Jasmine Paolini, 6-2 6-4.
Aiava, in her first WTA semi-final appearance, and Cabrera were looking to make their first WTA Final appearance together but were unable to produce their best tennis.
Elsewhere, top seeds Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai suffered a shock loss in their Melbourne Summer Set semi-final.
The pair dropped a first-set tiebreaker before Tereza Martincova and Mayar Sherif put their foot down to take a 7-6(4) 6-3 victory.
Subscribe to our newsletter!