PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 01: Ashleigh Barty of Australia celebrates victory during her ladies singles third round match against Andrea Petkovic of Germany during Day seven of the 2019 French Open at Roland Garros on June 01, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 01: Ashleigh Barty of Australia celebrates victory during her ladies singles third round match against Andrea Petkovic of Germany during Day seven of the 2019 French Open at Roland Garros on June 01, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

As big names fall, is this Barty’s year?

Ashleigh Barty is on full alert ahead of a fourth-round French Open with Sofia Kenin, declaring the American firebrand as dangerous as Serena Williams.

Increasingly viewed as a leading title contender, Barty refuses to be distracted by speculation she is ready to win a major after Kenin's shock 6-2 7-5 elimination of 10th seed Williams.

"You can only play who's on the other side of the net," Barty said after world No 35 Kenin nailed Williams.

"There's so much talk around the draws when they come out, and so much changes every single day.

"So I think you have to take absolutely nothing away from Sofia.

"She's played an incredible match, obviously, to beat a world-class champion.

"And the challenge will be just as great coming from her as it would have been if it was Serena."

 

Barty is undefeated against Kenin, having toppled the American twice.

But she has tremendous respect for the young power merchant.

"Sonya is an incredible competitor. She really is," Barty said.

"I got a little bit of a taste of that at Fed Cup earlier this year.

"And she certainly respects every opponent but doesn't play their reputation. "She plays them just on the other side of the net, and that's one of her best attributes.

"So I think it's going to be an extremely tough match come Monday.

"And regardless who's on that other side of the net, as I've been saying over the past few months, it's about me trying to prepare and doing the best I can and trying to execute as best I can on the day."

Barty improved her seasonal haul to 29 wins from 34 matches with a clinical 6-3 6-1 demolition of Germany's former world No 9 Andrea Petkovic.

Her mindset, improved strength and conditioning have allowed her to consistently uncork the most mesmerising tennis on tour.

Ashleigh Barty is one of the highest ranking players left.
Ashleigh Barty is one of the highest ranking players left.

"I've been able to win some matches in business-like fashion, but they're certainly not easy matches, that's for sure," she said.

"I feel like I'm playing well and being able to execute to make the score lines look a little easier than the match actually is."

Bidding to become the first Australian woman since Margaret Court in 1973 to triumph here, Barty refuses to look beyond Kenin.

"Yeah, I think for me it's easy not to look ahead. Obviously there's talk and it's unavoidable to hear what else is happening around the draw," she said.

"But for me, I can't control any of that. I can't control what other girls are doing.

"I can only control, you know, how I prepare, how I play, and ultimately how we go about my next match."

Defending champion and third seed Simona Halep is the only player seeded higher than Barty in the top half of the draw.

The last Australian woman to lift the singles crown here was Margaret Court in 1973.



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