ASHLEIGH ON A HIGH
Makes singles semi and doubles final with Casey
ASHLEIGH Barty became only the third qualifier to ever make the singles semi-finals in the history of the Malaysian Open following a 6-0, 7-6 (7-2) win over China’s Zhang Kai Lin at TPC Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Taiwan’s Hsieh Su Wei was the first qualifier to make the semifinals in 2012 with China’s Zhu Lin emulating the Taiwanese’s feat in 2016.
It was also a double celebration for the World No 158 Ashleigh when she and compatriot Casey Dellacqua reached the doubles final.
In the singles, the 21-year-old Ashleigh broke three times for a first-set bagel against the 131stranked Kai Lin.
In the second set, Ashleigh broke back in the 12th game and won in the tie-break to achieve her first ever tour singles last four appearance.
She then returned to court about 90 minutes later to pair up with Casey for a routine 6-3, 6-2 victory over the Belgian and Turkish pairing of Elise Mertens and Ipek Soylu to make their first tour final since Birmingham in 2014.
Ashleigh and Casey were runners-up at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2013.
Ashleigh was delighted to make the singles semi-finals.
“I served well and got the early momentum in the first set. Kai Lin fought back in the second set and I had a poor game at 5-5.
“I moved on and played really well after I broke back in the 12th game. I am really excited and I feel I am not far away from getting better results in tournaments.”
Ashleigh will play World No 139 Han Xinyun of China for a spot in the final today.
Han Xinyun turned on the heat in the third set to edge sixth seed and compatriot Wang Qiang 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-4 in 137 minutes for only her second semi-final appearance after Dalian last September.
“After losing the first set, I changed my strategy and played aggressively as I realised that Wang Qiang was tired.
“I went 5-0 in the second set and won to force a deciding set.
“I was 0-40 down on her serve in the final game of the third set but I kept my composure to level and win in deuce,” said Han Xinyun.
The 26-year-old said she is eager to take on Ashleigh today.
“Ashleigh is so talented. She achieved good results when she was young and she is playing well here. I am excited to play her,” Han Xinyun added.
Ashleigh Barty returns a shot to Zhang Kai Lin in the quarterfinals of the Malaysian Open at TPC in Bukit Kiara yesterday.