Ashleigh Barty is in tremendous touch on the clay in Paris.
Ashleigh Barty is in tremendous touch on the clay in Paris.

‘Hell of an opportunity’: Barty right in slam firing line

Ash Barty is shutting out external distraction as she eyes a "hell of an opportunity" to chase French Open quarter-final success against Madison Keys.

Told Rod Laver is urging her to "go all the way" to become Australia's first women's champion since Margaret Court in 1973, Barty remains in blinkered isolation.

"I think obviously there's a little bit more talk around and a little bit more attention," she said after fending off American Sofia Kenin 6-3 3-6 6-0.

"But for me, nothing changes.

"Very much we go through the exact same process after a match. Whether it's a win or a loss, it's the same recovery, same everything.

"I think that's probably what I've been doing best over the last 12 to 18 months.

"And it's put me in better positions. I'm in these positions now because I'm doing that better.

"So I think, you know, it's pretty incredible to be in this position now, deep into another slam, and a hell of an opportunity."

Keys took Barty to the cleaners at Roland Garros two years ago, dismissing the Queenslander 6-3 6-2.

Barty avenged the defeat with Fed Cup success in February, but laments the nightmarish memories of a 2017 claycourt clash against Keys here.

"Yeah, I played her here at the French Open a few years ago in a match I would love to forget," Barty said after beating Kenin.

"So I think it's very much a fresh, clean slate from this match.

"At Fed Cup, as well.

"(It's a) different surface. I mean, as different as you can probably get, indoor hard to an outdoor clay court.

"I think it's an amazing opportunity for me to go out there and try and play my brand of tennis again, and take it to her as much as I can.

"She's obviously had really good success here in the past."

Keys reached the semi-finals here last season and is again thundering through the draw,

smiting away Katerina Siniakova 6-2 6-4.

Kenin hailed Barty's vast array of weapons after bowing out.

"Her serve is really good. I mean, she does everything well," Kenin said.

"She moves really well. Her slices, you know, there's not many girls on tour with a really good slice.

"Yeah, she has, like, the best slice.

"She has good hands, dropshots. Yeah, I mean, she's a great player."

Barty, who will rise to world No 5 after becoming Australia's first quarter-finalist here since Sam Stosur in 2016.

Keys said: "It's going to be a tough one.

"I think she's (Barty) obviously playing well to make quarter-finals.

"I feel like clay actually suits her game really well with her kick serve and slice and all that.

"It's something I'm going to have to have a game plan set to be ready for her."

Barty and Keys have clashed twice previously, with honours split.

The Queenslander won the pair's most recent clash, posting a straight-sets win in Fed Cup in February.

News Corp Australia


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