Tennis

Ashleigh Barty knocked out of Charleston Open

Female tennis World Number One player, Ashleigh Barty, on Friday, became the latest casualty in a tournament full of surprises, when she was defeated by Spaniard Paula Badosa, ranked 71st in the world after their quarter-final match ended 6-4 6-3 in Badosa’s favour. The victory carried the Spaniard through to the biggest semifinal of her career.

Female tennis World Number One player, Ashleigh Barty, on Friday, became the latest casualty in a tournament full of surprises, when she was defeated by Spaniard Paula Badosa, ranked 71st in the world after their quarter-final match ended 6-4 6-3 in Badosa’s favour. The victory carried the Spaniard through to the biggest semifinal of her career.

Badosa, who played very convincingly, was expectedly excited in her post-match interview on court: “I can’t believe it. I still can’t believe I just beat the No. 1 in the world. I was nervous, but I served very well, and I think that was the key of the match.

“It was a tough match, but I was there until the last moment.”

The pair produced a display worthy of top rankings and while Badosa finished the match with a +7 differential of winners to unforced errors, 19 to 12, Barty had an even better +10 differential, 34 to 24, from the two setter.

What gave the victory to Badosa in the end were the big points. She was just too sharp on those, ensuring she converted five of her 10 break points in the match. Barty, meanwhile, converted just two of 14 break points that she got. It was Barty’s last inside-out forehand on match point that finished the match, which was only an hour and 16 minutes long.

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Recapping how she fought her way to victory, Badosa said: “What I’m most proud of about today is that I’ve been here playing every point, no matter what. It was 0-40 at 5-4 in the first set and I came back, and in the second set she had break points as well, but I just stayed calm and tried to serve very well. And it just went very well.”

It has been a few tough couple of days for the world number one. On the night before her loss to Badosa, she had been on court for more than two hours before she squeezed past Shelby Rogers in a tight three-setter. But, in her own post-match remarks the Australian refrained from using that as an excuse.

She said: “I think it’s been a collective over the last three weeks of playing a lot of matches, which is always a good problem to have. But without a doubt I had to adjust the way I approached this match.

“I had to be super aggressive, and all in all I think it was way too many risks. But it’s been an exceptional three weeks to start off our trip, and I’ll take nothing but the positives from it.”

The week has so far been a breakthrough for Badosa at the Charleston WTA 500. It is not her first WTA semifinals but the other three she has played in were all at WTA 250s: Palermo in 2019, Istanbul in 2020 and Lyon this year but they all demonstrate her consistency.

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That consistency is paying dividends because although she was still searching for a match victory against a Top 20 player after five previous meetings, she got her first Top 20 win over world number 12 Belinda Bencic in the second round at Charleston. Now, she can chalk up her first Top 10 win, which is against the highest ranked female player of all.

In the semi-finals, Badosa will play the Russian Veronika Kudermetova for a shot at the finals. The Russian knocked out the 2017 US Open champion and 2018 French Open finalist, Sloane Stephens, in straight sets 6-3 6-4 at the another quarter-finals match.

Badosa is yet to defeat Kudermetova, with the Russian taking four of the five sets they have played and winning both times, first in the qualifying of Indian Wells back in 2019, 6-3 6-2, and then in the third round of the main draw in Abu Dhabi this year, 6-4 4-6 6-1. But, the Spaniard is in the form of rewriting that story.

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