World number one Barty into last eight of Australian Openon February 15, 2021 at 9:48 am

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World number one Ashleigh Barty only needs 71 minutes to defeat American Shelby Rogers and move into the Australian Open quarter-finals.

Ashleigh Barty

Barty, who is aiming to become the first Australian to win the women’s singles since 1978, triumphed 6-3 6-4.

American Jessica Pegula produced a shock 6-3 3-6 6-3 win to knock out fifth seed Elina Svitolina.

The world number 61’s win on Rod Laver Arena took her into the last eight of a Grand Slam for the first time.

The 26-year-old will face fellow American Jennifer Brady, who beat Croatia’s Donna Vekic 6-1 7-5.

“I feel good, everything feels pretty solid, so I’m just going take that to the next match,” said Pegula.

“I’m just happy that I’m competing well, hitting well, moving well.”

Pegula had already seen off two-time winner and 12th seed Victoria Azarenka in the opening round and reaches the last 16 without dropping a set.

She earned the vital break in the first set when Svitolina double faulted and the Ukrainian went a break down in the second before fighting back to level the match.

The pair traded breaks in the decider but Pegula was able to immediately wrestle back the advantage and serve out to progress.

Jessica Pegula

Barty on course for second Grand Slam title

There has not been an Australian winner of the women’s singles since Christine O’Neil beat American Betsy Nagelsen 43 years ago.

Barty, 24, won the French Open in 2019 and reached the semi-finals in Melbourne last year before losing to eventual winner Sofia Kenin.

As a result of the coronavirus restrictions, Barty opted not to play in the behind-closed-doors US Open in August and September and then also chose to not defend her title at Roland Garros.

But, playing in her first Grand Slam in a year, she has not dropped a set in any of her four matches in Melbourne.

She gained the first break of the match in the fourth game and only needed 29 minutes to take the opening set after Rogers, ranked 57th in the world, failed to convert two break points in the seventh game.

Barty broke twice again in the second set, although, when serving for the match, the Australian was broken. However, she sealed the win in her next service game.

She will face 25th seed Karolina Muchova, after the Czech Republic player knocked out Belgium’s 18th seed Elise Mertens, winning 7-6 (7-5) 7-5.

“It’s really exciting to be through to another quarter-final,” said Barty. “If you had told me this would have happened in pre-season I would’ve had a massive smile on my face.

“I just love being at home, I love being in Australia and sharing it with my friends and family.

“I knew the serve was going to be massive and Shelby is a player that can take the match away from you very quickly so I had to have my running shoes on.”

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