Ashleigh Barty stays grounded as home clamour grows for her to win Australia Open

Australia's Ashleigh Barty reacts after defeating Petra Kvitova in their quarter-final match at the Australian Open. Picture: AP/Lee Jin-man
Australia's Ashleigh Barty reacts after defeating Petra Kvitova in their quarter-final match at the Australian Open. Picture: AP/Lee Jin-man
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Ashleigh Barty is leaving the hype to the rest of Australia as she moves ever closer to a first title at Melbourne Park.

Barty gained revenge on Petra Kvitova in the quarter-finals, winning 7-6 (6) 6-2 to become the first Australian woman to make the last four in singles since Wendy Turnbull in 1984.

Sofia Kenin makes a forehand return to Tunisia's Ons Jabeur during their quarter-final match at the Australian Open. Picture: AP/Lee Jin-man

Sofia Kenin makes a forehand return to Tunisia's Ons Jabeur during their quarter-final match at the Australian Open. Picture: AP/Lee Jin-man

The ultimate aim is to become the first home winner of the women’s title since Chris O’Neil six years earlier and, if she can maintain the level she showed against Kvitova, she will take some stopping.

Barty’s face is inescapable around Melbourne but, an unassuming character, the 23-year-old said she would rather “be sitting at home just living my quiet little life”.

“I don’t pay attention to it, honestly,” Barty said of the increasing focus on her.

“I’m here to try and do the best that I can. Obviously it’s exciting. Hopefully, I can bring a smile to a few faces around our country and around the world.”

I’m here to try and do the best that I can. Obviously it’s exciting. Hopefully, I can bring a smile to a few faces around our country and around the world.

Ashleigh Barty

In the last four, Barty will take on 14th seed Sofia Kenin, who reached her first grand slam semi-final with a 6-4 6-4 victory over Ons Jabeur.

The most surprising of the last-eight clashes was also a contrast of styles between the steady, driven Kenin and Tunisian Jabeur, who possesses a box of tricks but does not always know how best to deploy them.

In the end, American Kenin came out on top, and this victory takes her to the verge of the top 10 with potentially more to come.

The 21-year-old, who beat Serena Williams at the French Open last year, said: “It feels really good. I’m super excited for it. I think overall I played really good. I tried to handle the nerves. I did a really good job handling myself.”