Craig Tyzzer says his young charge Ash Barty is a vastly improved player — but he expects even more. Picture: AAP.
Craig Tyzzer says his young charge Ash Barty is a vastly improved player — but he expects even more. Picture: AAP.

‘Fighting spirit’ has Barty primed for history

ASHLEIGH Barty's coach Craig Tyzzer says the world champion is now a significantly better player than when the Queenslander won the French Open in June

But, in a stark warning ahead of the world No.1's Australian Open semi-final clash with powerful counter-puncher Sofia Kenin, Tyzzer places little store in Barty's 4-1 record against the American.

Asked how much Barty has progressed as a competitor since watershed Roland Garros success, Tyzzer said: "She has improved significantly.

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"In her self-belief on-court, experience in big matches and her fighting spirit."

Currently on a nine-match winning streak, Barty has employed her tactical acumen to the full over the past 10 days, finding solutions in the face of failure.

With wins over Lesia Tsurenko, Polona Hercog, Elena Rybakina, Alison Riske and Petra Kvitova, Barty has met - and conquered - a string of perilous challenges.

Kenin is the epitome of the successful modern player: fearless, hard-hitting and relentless.

Ash Barty celebrates a game win during her quarter-final against Petra Kvitova. Picture: Michael Klein.
Ash Barty celebrates a game win during her quarter-final against Petra Kvitova. Picture: Michael Klein.

Regarded as one of the sport's premier analysts, WTA Tour coach of the year Tyzzer will not place any relevance on Barty's four wins against Kenin, especially the French Open rollercoaster.

"Not really, no," he said.

"Tomorrow's match is on a completely different surface and Ash has played her more recently (losing) in Toronto.

"We will look at more recent matches to develop the game plan for tomorrow."

The first Australian woman to reach the semi-finals since Wendy Turnbull 36 years ago, Barty has complete faith in Tyzzer.

'Tyz' is very precise in what he has seen from previous matches, what he's looked at into our opponents," Barty said.

"Also a little bit of it is just discussion that we have back and forth.

"Yeah, he's the best at what he does for a reason.

"It's certainly nice having him in my corner because I feel like he could probably pick me apart pretty easily. So it's nice to have him in my corner."

Bidding to become the first Australian - woman or man - to win the Open since Chris O'Neil in 1978, Barty knows what to expect from Kenin.

"She's an exceptional competitor," Barty said.

"Loves to put herself out there, test herself on the biggest stage. Have played her a number of times now, with some results going both ways.

"She has a great knack of controlling the court from the centre of the court and being that first strike player. It's going to be important for me to try and nullify that if I can."

Simona Halep, who could potentially face Barty in Saturday's final, admires the Australian's game.

"I think she's improving in everything. She has a great form now," the reigning Wimbledon champion said.

"The slice is amazing for the girl's game. She's serving well, even if she's not very tall. We are actually the same.

"I think she's very talented. She has self-confidence at very high level now."

Halep will play Spain's Garbine Muguruza or a place in the final after thrashing Estonian Anett Kontaveit 6-1 6-1.

Like Halep, Muguruza is a French and Wimbledon winner and showed her class in a 7-5 6-3 victory over Russian 30th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.



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