Eighth seed Ashleigh Barty dropped a set for the first time at this year’s French Open, though eventually progressed to the quarterfinals in Paris by overcoming the challenge of America’s Sofia Kenin in a fourth round match on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Barty had so far cruised through the draw, and it looked as if she could do that today, racing to a 5-1 lead in just 17 minutes, looking much more composed on court than Kenin, who was perhaps suffering a little hangover from the biggest win over her career against Serena Williams just two days ago.
The American, unseeded here, was able to get back into the match however, applying a little pressure to Barty towards the end of the first set, and playing a tactically astute second set to force a decider. Barty, who reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at her home slam in Australia earlier this season, rallied perfectly though, taking advantage of some costly errors by Kenin to prevail 6-3, 3-6, 6-0 in 90 minutes.
Barty holds off Kenin to secure back-to-back major quarterfinals
It was Barty who started quickly, breaking for a 2-0 lead, and saving a break point to speed to a 3-0 lead. Kenin struggled to get into the match, and was broken for a second time later to trail 1-5, though was able to break the Australian as she served for the set, and hold for a second time to decrease the eighth seed’s advantage to 5-3. However, after failing to do so the first time, Barty had little trouble in doing so the second time to take a quick first set.
Kenin had grown into the first towards the end, and began to show a great presence in this match as she started the second set sharply, breaking early on and consolidating for a 3-0 lead. Barty faced continued pressure throughout the set, just about avoiding being broken again, though herself failed to convert two break points when 3-5 down, with the American holding on to take a third set point and send the match to a deciding set.
The American had played an almost perfect second set, though a few errors began creeping into her game, and Barty did more than enough to take advantage, breaking in the second game and consolidating for a 3-0 lead. The eighth seed continued to motor, with other break helping her build a 5-0 lead in this fourth round encounter, and she converted a second match point when Kenin was serving down 0-5 to progress.
It was Barty’s toughest match so far, though the Australian showed great composure to fend off Kenin’s fight, with her greater experience in these moments perhaps showing throughout that final set. Results this tournament, as well as Barty’s highly impressive past 12 months, mean the Australian is set for a new career high once the tournament is over, and she will certainly fancy her chances of a first major semifinal when she plays 14th seed Madison Keys on Wednesday.