No.1 seed Ashleigh Barty continued her ruthless march through the Australian Open draw, dispatching No.21 seed Jessica Pegula 6-2, 6-0 in just 63 minutes in the quarterfinals.

Barty has lost just 17 games in five matches to reach her fourth Grand Slam semifinal, and second at her home major. She is bidding to become the first Australian women to lift the trophy in Melbourne since Chris O'Neil in 1978. With her title on home soil in Adelaide three weeks ago, Barty is now on a nine-match winning streak.

Her potential path is increasingly reminiscent of Roland Garros 2019, where Barty claimed her first Grand Slam trophy. That fortnight, she defeated Pegula in the first round and Amanda Anisimova in the semifinals. Here, she has now defeated Anisimova and Pegula in consecutive rounds. Next up is Madison Keys, whom Barty beat 6-3, 7-5 in the Parisian quarterfinals three years ago.

By the numbers: A scratchy start to the match from both players saw an error-strewn opening few games. But while Barty committed 16 unforced errors to eight winners in the first set, she nonetheless gained immediate control with her superior focus on big points. Pegula, meanwhile, found only two winners to 14 unforced errors in the first set, and was unable to take advantage of what proved to be a brief opportunity.

Barty broke from 40-0 down in the first game, and held for 3-1 after Pegula netted a second serve return on break point. Thereafter, Barty found her groove, and motored through the remainder of the match with a streak of nine consecutive games. She would lose only six more points on serve.

In the second half of the first set and throughout a strong second set, Barty was in top form. She carved up the court with short backhand slices to set herself up for a winning pass, she found a superb lob to turn defence into offence to seal the first break of set two, and she was a step ahead of Pegula in every extended rally. Barty finished the second set with nine winners and six unforced errors, while Pegula added another 12 unforced errors to only five more winners.

Pegula had initially deployed a net-rushing strategy, but the American could not find the execution at the start of the match. Later, she would find it used against her as Barty, sensing weakness, brought her forward repeatedly. Pegula would ultimately win only three of 12 net points overall.

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ashleigh barty
AUS
More Head to Head
75% Win 3
- Matches Played
25% Win 1
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madison keys
USA

What's next: Barty and Keys, who reached her fifth Grand Slam semifinal with a win over Barbora Krejcikova, have been squaring off since their junior days. They split two junior meetings, both at Wimbledon, but Barty has a 2-1 lead at pro level. This includes their most recent two matches, both in 2019 - a 6-4, 6-1 win in the Billie Jean King Cup first round and a 6-3, 7-5 win in the Roland Garros quarterfinals.

Barty on her success this fortnight: "I'm just having fun, to be honest," she said. "I'm having fun trying to problem solve out on the court, and each and every opponent has been different. Each and every opponent has presented me with a different challenge and forced me to use another tool in my toolbox.

"I have been able to execute, which is sometimes important - you can have all the right ideas but you need to be able to do it under the pump. I've been able to do that this week, which has been really exciting.

"I think it's about understanding the one-on-one battle. I think you can do all the preparation in the world and have all of the stats, the tactics, everything pre-planned - but your opponent has the ability to adapt and change and come out and do something completely different to what you expected. 

"So I think being able to learn on the fly in a match is really important. If there's a shot or a pattern that's hurting me and putting me under pressure, I try and figure out a way how to get out of that pattern before - and not necessarily just hit my way out, I try and think my way out a little bit more first - and then try and find a way where I can hurt them. 

"So I think it's just a little bit of cat-and-mouse - but not cat-and-mouse in a way of just trying to understand the game in a different way, not always feeling like I have to be forceful or force my hand to make a change."

"She's definitely living in everyone's head a little bit."

- Jessica Pegula on Ashleigh Barty's dominance as World No.1.

Pegula on how it feels to face Barty: "You feel pretty helpless," she said. "When she gets into a rhythm [...] her game just picks you apart. She has so many intangible things she does well that I think if you let her get in that rhythm, then it can kind of run away. 

"I think we've seen her do that to a lot of people. Unfortunately I was a victim tonight to that.

"Honestly, she just does everything, I think, a little bit better than everybody. She figured it out a little bit mentally and physically with her game where she has the confidence right now where she feels like she can go out there and chop anybody up when she's playing really well.

"I think she's definitely living in everyone's head a little bit. I don't think anyone is going to feel great going out to play her because they know they have to play really well."

Barty on facing Keys: "Maddie is an exceptional athlete. She has a great serve, great first strike off the return and off her first ball after her serve. A lot of the time it's about trying to put her in an uncomfortable position, try and get her off-balance, because if she controls the centre of the court, the match is on her racquet. 

"I need to be able to find a balance, problem solve my way through it, try and work out a way to nullify her strengths and bring it back to my patterns if I can, and understand it's not always in my control. We accept that, move on, go again to the next point."

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2022 Adelaide 500