Ash Barty soared into the semifinals of the Adelaide International thanks to a straight-sets win over Czech Marketa Vondrousova on Thursday night.
In a rematch of last year’s Roland Garros final, which Barty won 6-1 6-3, the Australian was similarly dominant with a 6-3 6-3 victory in under 90 minutes.
The win sets up her first-ever meeting with Danielle Collins, the in-form American who continues to storm through the draw in Adelaide.
On Thursday, her latest victim was fourth seed Belinda Bencic; Collins brushed the Swiss aside 6-3 6-1 to earn her fifth triumph from six outings in 2020.
On the other side of the draw, Aryna Sabalenka and Dayana Yastremska set up a big-hitting semifinal after straight sets victories earlier in the day.
Sabalenka, a former top-10 player, completely overwhelmed second seed Simona Halep, belting 30 winners while making just 10 unforced errors in a jaw-dropping 6-4 6-2 performance.
Yastremska was the first player through to the semis with a 6-4 6-3 win over Donna Vekic.
Barty emerged from the blocks somewhat slowly this season, with rust contributing to her opening-round loss in Brisbane to qualifier Jennifer Brady.
She looked scratchy in her first match in Adelaide as well, requiring three sets to eventually fend off the challenge of fast-finishing Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
But against Vondrousova on Thursday night, she appeared in control for the majority of the match.
Vondrousova had beaten Arina Rodionova 6-0 6-0 in the previous round, showing encouraging form in her first tournament back after a wrist injury sidelined her for six months shortly after her French Open run.
Yet Barty dictated rallies with her heavy crosscourt forehand and biting slice backhand and benefitted from the Czech’s impatience – and subsequent unforced errors.
“It’s getting better and better,” Barty replied when asked to assess her performance.
“I think there are still times in the match where I want it to be a little bit tighter and clinical, but all in all it’s really nice to be back here generating opportunities for myself and now getting the opportunity to play again on this beautiful court.”
Barty said she was aware of Collins’ “exceptional” ball-striking abilities as she continued to build up to the Australian Open, where she will be the first female top seed from the host country since 1977.
“She has the ability to take the match out of your hands very quickly. Extremely aggressive off the return and off that first strike,” Barty said of Collins.
“So I have to have my running shoes on tomorrow, and make sure I bring some variety in too.”