No stopping Barty, even as Tsitsipas joins fallen seeds

Ashleigh Barty on her way to a 6-3, 6-3 win over Elina Svitolina. She won the Miami Open when it was last held in 2019.
Ashleigh Barty on her way to a 6-3, 6-3 win over Elina Svitolina. She won the Miami Open when it was last held in 2019.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MIAMI • World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty bucked the upset trend at the Miami Open on Thursday, rolling into the women's final as men's second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was toppled by Hubert Hurkacz.

Barty fired 27 winners in a 6-3, 6-3 win over fifth-seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina to return to the title match of a tournament she won when it was last held in 2019.

But Tsitsipas was left trying to explain a "self-explosion" after he squandered a commanding lead in a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 quarter-final loss to 26th seed Hurkacz of Poland - the latest in a string of upsets that saw men's top seed Daniil Medvedev and No. 3 Alexander Zverev bow out along with women's No. 2 Naomi Osaka.

The Greek admitted it was a crushing outcome in a tournament where the absence of superstars Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer and his own recent form seemed to offer him a chance to shine.

"I felt like it was my opportunity," Tsitsipas said.

"I feel like there was more space for me to show something greater. It's a very disappointing loss. It was there, everything was under control. And suddenly, I don't know."

Hurkacz will face fourth seed Andrey Rublev in the last four, with the Russian beating unseeded American Sebastian Korda 7-5, 7-6 (9-7). Both will be playing their first Masters 1000 semi-final.

On the women's side, Barty has gone from strength to strength since saving a match point in her opening victory over Slovakian qualifier Kristina Kucova.

"Every single match I felt like I've done something a little bit better, and that's all you can ask," said the Australian, who opted not to travel out of her country last year amid Covid-19, and withdrew from tournaments in Doha and Dubai last month with a leg injury.

She received treatment for an abdominal issue between sets on Thursday, but vowed she would be "right as rain" for a title showdown today against eighth seed Bianca Andreescu.

The Canadian beat 23rd seed Maria Sakkari of Greece - who shocked Osaka in the quarter-finals - 7-6 (9-7), 3-6, 7-6 (7-4).


    Semi-final 2: StarHub Ch211, 7am.


    Final: StarHub Ch201, tomorrow, 1am

Miami is just the third WTA tournament for the 2019 US Open champion Andreescu, since she returned at the Australian Open in February after a 15-month injury layoff.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2021, with the headline 'No stopping Barty, even as Tsitsipas joins fallen seeds'. Subscribe