March 29, 2021
Ashleigh Barty is back on form and looking great in sunny Miami.
The reigning champion beat Victoria Azaranka with a winning combination of backhand slices and forehand crosscourt winners.
That’s how Barty took advantage of her third match point and finished the contest 6-1, 1-6, 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals.
The fans in Florida roared their approval for one of the world’s favourite players.
And it remains to be seen whether Naomi Osaka can become undisputed top gun at this tournament instead of the Australian.
The nagging depth of that Barty slice left Azarenka looking frustrated and snatching at her shots when it mattered.
And when the taller woman tried to stay patient, Barty simply pounced with some stunning angled winners.
A delighted Barty also felt that her serve provided a vital foundation in the decider.
She explained: ‘In the third set I served a bit better, because Vika was all over my second serve in the second set.
‘It’s not always you can win every tennis match, but you can give it your all every time.’
This is Barty’s first big tournament outside Australia in a year and augers well for Wimbledon 2021.
Let’s not forget she was Girls’ Champion at Wimbledon in 2011.
How she would love to lift some singles silverware at the All England Club ten years later.
The Wimbledon crowds will love Barty. Everyone admires her modesty and her down-to-earth attitude.
For now she is enjoying the Miami vibe and said: ‘I’m truly grateful to have so much support in Miami and it’s certainly nice to be back doing what I enjoy and seeing you guys enjoy it too.’
Meanwhile Elina Svitolina beat two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 2-6, 7-5, 7-5 in another thriller.
Everyone loves Svitolina, who is one of the biggest characters on tour.
And she hasn’t lost her bubbly nature, despite her recent split from the flamboyant Gael Monfils.
At one time it looked as though statuesque Petra would blow her opponent away.
‘It was a very tough battle today and Petra is a very tough opponent. I had to make some adjustments after the first set and get my serve percentage higher. I’m really happy with how I handled the pressure and won through.’
In a further tribute to Kvitova, Elina added: ‘She is one of the nicest players to share the court with and she went through a lot. It’s always a big battle because she is still such a fighter.
‘The quarter-finals are always challenging and I hope it will happen for me again.’
The action is really sizzling now in Miami as the in-form women truly hit their stride.