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Australian Open: Barty unsure of Federer backhand comparison: 'We aren't even on the same page'

By Ryan Benson

Melbourne, January 25: Ash Barty was told how her backhand slice has been compared to that of Roger Federer, but the women's top seed at the Australian Open is not convinced.

Barty produced a stellar display as she saw off Jessica Pegula in Tuesday's quarter-final, losing just two games over the entire duel as the American proved no match.

Her victory sets up a semi-final clash with another American, Madison Keys, with Barty aiming to reach the final of her home grand slam for the first time.

Barty was ruthless against Pegula, firing 17 winners to her opponent's seven, while she won five of the nine break points available to her.

But it was her backhand slice – one of the most recognisable shots in the women's game today – that was particularly notable to four-time grand slam winner Jim Courier in commentary, who compared Barty in this respect to Federer.

Not that Barty was having any of it.

"That's very kind from Jim," Barty told reporters afterwards. "I think everyone's shots are unique.

"I think obviously Roger has one of the most exceptional slice backhands in the game. Mine's a long way off that. Absolutely, no stretch of the imagination we are even on the same page at all.

"But I love to use my slice, I love to get creative with it, to use it offensively and defensively. Over my career I've learnt it is a weapon for me.

"I try and use it when I have to. Sometimes I try and use it when it's my choice and I can be really, really aggressive with it.

"But being able to use it with variety and have different options has been a massive part of my game through this last couple of years of my career."

When Barty faces Keys in the semi-final, she will have already matched her personal best at the Australian Open – she also reached the last four in 2020.

But the combination of being world number one for over two years and having two grand slams under her belt is helping her maintain focus this time around.

"[It's] a bit of both. I think the process hasn't changed, but obviously the familiarity of knowing what to expect or expect how my body feels and almost be able to deal with those emotions a little bit better has probably changed and grown as I've become more experienced," she continued.

"But the processes for us haven't changed regardless of whether it's a first round of the tournament, latter stage of a grand slam, it doesn't actually matter the process before we walk out on court.

"But it's exciting, and I think also being able to embrace the excitement of being in with a chance to play deep in your home slam, it's pretty cool. I think going out there and enjoying that and really embracing that experience helps for sure."

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Story first published: Tuesday, January 25, 2022, 18:00 [IST]
Other articles published on Jan 25, 2022