“I love Petra [Kvitova] but let’s hope she doesn’t break my heart on Tuesday [in the quarter final].
“It’s been an incredible year for me the last 12 months it’s been amazing. I am just excited I get another opportunity in the quarter final of a grand slam.”
At her best, Barty constructs points patiently, slicing the ball almost every time it comes to her backhand, forcing opponents to inject pace and power into their rallies while simultaneously having to negotiate the dangerous spin the Australian loads up on the ball.
Barty’s opponent on Sunday night, the no.18 seeded Riske, struggled with Barty’s slicing style in the first set, spraying the ball long and wide as she scampered across the baseline. It also didn’t help that Riske’s serving was inaccurate.
Riske had defeated Barty in the round of 16 at Wimbledon last year so she was more than capable of handling this facet of the Australian’s game, and while the first set was a battle for her because of that slice, she soon found her groove in the second.
Like Riske’s inaccurate serving in the first set, it was Barty’s unforced errors that swayed the match in the second set.
Barty’s opening set display was near flawless save for a messy game where Riske broke her serve. Despite the setback, Barty broke Riske twice, and with two sets points the Australian was able to win the set courtesy of an unforced error by the American.
The second set was a much different story, particularly to the point where Barty trailed by three games to zero quite quickly.
At that point in that second set Barty had gifted her opponent seven unforced errors to Riske’s one.
To her credit Riske did what she does best when behind. She often enjoys coming back from behind and to do it on Sunday she focused on playing simple, clean tennis with a premium on getting the ball in, while ensuring she sat right on the baseline and wasn’t pushed back deep.
That may sound obvious but the lack of extravagance and panic she played with, a set down in front of a crowd that was against her, was impressively measured and not easy to do.
Barty broke Riske in the fourth game of the third set to go up 3-1, and then she hold to go up 4-1. But at 4-2 the American broke back, with Barty struggling to land her first serve and her ground strokes in play.
Riske held the next game but was broken with Barty leading 5-4 to lose the set and the match. Barty began that game with a beautiful forehand past an advancing Riske to lead 0-15 and create a strong foothold in the game.
At 30-30 Barty produced a stunning shot that Riske could only volley into the net to bring up match point after trailing 15-30.
Riske hit both of her serves long to give Barty the Australia Day victory and hand the Australian the match.
Barty will take on last year’s Australian Open runner up Kvitova in the quarter finals. Kvitova beat Greece’s no.22 seed Maria Sakkari in three sets on Sunday prior to Barty’s match.
Kvitova, the no.7 seed this year, beat Barty at the same stage at last year’s Australian Open.
Anthony is a sports reporter at The Age.