Ash Barty fought back after losing the first set to Maria Sakkari. Picture: Getty Images
Ash Barty fought back after losing the first set to Maria Sakkari. Picture: Getty Images

‘Back to basics’ Barty eyes world No.1 ranking again

AUSTRALIAN top seed Ashleigh Barty has progressed to the semi-finals of the Cincinnati Open after battling back from a set down to beat Maria Sakkari.

Barty, who also had to recover from losing the opening set before edging Estonian Anett Kontaveit in the previous round, surged to a 4-1 advantage in the first set on Friday and appeared on her way to an easy triumph, but Sakkari had other ideas.

The Greek, using a variety of backhand winners that resulted in mounting unforced errors by Barty, wrestled control to take the set.

In explaining the turnaround, Barty said, "I started the match well and I went away from what was working. Maria took some risks that paid off."

The second saw a reversal of form with Barty cleaning up her errors and effectively employing a backhand slice that deserted her in the opener.

"It was important for me at the start of the second set to go back to basics and what worked before," the 23-year-old Barty said.

"I had to serve well, and not give her too many looks at second serves.

"I tried to bring in my slice to change the tempo of the match."

With 11 winners and just four unforced errors she easily took the set.

Our Ash thanks the crowd after her win. Picture: Getty Images
Our Ash thanks the crowd after her win. Picture: Getty Images

Sakkari was no match in the third as Barty raced through for the win. French Open champion Barty, the world No.2, can reclaim the world top spot by reaching the final of the US Open warm-up event.

She faces Karolina Pliskova or Svetlana Kuznetsova next in the last four but added: "I'm just keeping my eye on the ball and if I win matches, the ranking will take care of itself."

Barty will face Svetlana Kuznetsova, who reached her first semifinal of the season by beating third-seeded Karolina Pliskova 3-6 7-6 (2) 6-3.

Kuznetsova is playing only her ninth event after missing the start of the season because of a knee injury.

Playing on a hot, humid afternoon, she got treatment on her upper right leg after the second set and twice again during the final one.

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News Corp Australia


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