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Barty advances, no court action needed for Nadal Down Under

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (AP) – Top-ranked Ash Barty has advanced to the Adelaide International semifinals with a 6-3, 6-4 win over 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin while Rafael Nadal advanced via a walkover in tune-up tournaments ahead of the year’s first Grand Slam event.

Barty used her usual backhand slice and powerful forehand drive but also set down 17 aces and won 31 of 32 points on her first serve to advance yesterday. Barty lost to Kenin in the Australian Open semifinals at Melbourne Park two years ago.

“I was able to look after my service games pretty well and it was a lot of fun playing out here again and to get a little bit more court time and to start to play a little bit better,”
Barty said.

On Wednesday, Barty beat Coco Gauff in three sets in her season opener after almost four months since her last competitive outing.

“That’s what you want. It’s nice to come out here right from the start and know that you have to bring your very best level,” the 2021 Wimbledon champion said. “Obviously looking at these last two matches, there’s still work to do.”

Ashleigh Barty plays a forehand return. PHOTO: AP

Barty next plays either two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka or Iga Swiatek today.

In earlier results at Adelaide, seventh-seeded Elena Rybakina beat Shelby Rogers 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the semifinals.

Nadal, the 20-time Grand Slam singles champion, advanced without taking the court when his Dutch opponent Tallon Griekspoor withdrew. Officials didn’t initially confirm why Griekspoor couldn’t play.

It was only one day after Nadal played and won his first competitive match in five months, beating Ricardas Berankis in straight sets.

Nadal will play unseeded Emil Ruusuvuori today for a place in the final. Ruusuvuori earlier beat Alex Molcan 6-2, 6-1.

In other men’s play yesterday, Marin Cilic and top-seeded Gael Monfils won their quarterfinals at the Adelaide International. Cilic beat Laslo Djere 6-3, 6-2 and Monfils defeated sixth-seeded Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-1.

Second-seeded Simona Halep advanced to the semifinals of the Summer Set 1 tune-up event in Melbourne with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 win over Viktorija Golubic. Zheng Qinwen also advanced after beating Ana Konjuh 7-6 (1), 7-6 (6).

Top-seeded Naomi Osaka and second-seeded Simona Halep advanced to the semifinals of the Summer Set 1 tune-up event in Melbourne.

Osaka beat Andre Petkovic 6-1, 7-5 while Halep defeated Viktorija Golubic 6-2, 5-7, 6-4.
Despite the win, Halep was her usual critical self.

“Nothing was working today,” Halep said in her on-court interview. “I fought with myself a lot and found it difficult to control my emotions but she put me in this situation and put pressure on me. But if you want to win, you don’t give up.”

In quarterfinal play of the WTA’s Summer Set 2 in Melbourne, Amanda Anisimova beat Irina-Camelia Begu 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 and Daria Kasatkina had a 7-5, 6-1 win over Nuria Parrizas Diaz.

The Adelaide and Melbourne tournaments are two of six tune-up events being staged in Australia this week ahead of the season-opening major at Melbourne Park, which starts on January 17.

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