Watch: World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty give a throwback to her cricket days at Australian Open 2022 | Tennis News

world no. 1 Ashleigh Barty warmed up for training ahead of the Australian Open 2022 semifinal against Madison Keys on Thursday (August 27) with a throwback to her cricket days. Barty, who became the first Australian since 1980 to win the Wimbledon crown, had taken a break from her tennis career to turn out for Brisbane Heat in the women’s Big Bash League in 2014.

Barty, who had no formal training in the sport, played a total of 10 matches and had a top score of 39 for the Heat. She soon realized that her calling was not cricket, but tennis and switched back to the sport.

“It truly was an amazing period of my life,” Barty had said of her cricket career in a 2019 interview. “I met an amazing group of people who couldn’t care less whether I could hit a tennis ball or not. They accepted me, and they got to know Ash Barty. They got to know me. I still have those relationships to this very day. I got an amazing amount of messages over the last couple of days from those cricket girls who were some of my best friends.”

Watch the video of Ash Barty playing cricket at Australian Open 2022 here…

Meanwhile, shortly after booking a spot in an Australian Open semi-final for the second time, Barty was on the phone to a close friend who had just achieved something even more remarkable on Tuesday night. The reigning Wimbledon champion was on the verge of defeating Jessica Pegula 6-2, 6-0 when Dylan Alcott was announced the Australian of the Year.

Alcott reached the quad wheelchair singles final earlier on Tuesday when beating Andy Lapthorne 6-3, 6-0 and then flew to Canberra for a ceremony in his honour. Barty, who will play another American Madison Keys in a semi-final on Thursday night, said the example set by the quad wheelchair champion was inspirational.

“What an incredible human being he is. He is an incredible athlete, second, but absolutely just an incredible man first,” she said. “The way he has impacted a whole nation has been absolutely remarkable and I could not be more rapt for him to be the Australian of the Year.”

Barty is now within two victories of another defining moment in her career after a dominant display against Pegula. The American was a quarter-finalist last year and entered the match with a straight-sets win over Maria Sakkari. But she was blitzed by Barty, who won the last nine games of the match.

“I think she’s definitely living in everyone’s head a little bit,” Pegula said.

The world number one, who is seeking to become the first local since Chris O’Neil in 1978 to win the Australian Open, is yet to drop a set in this tournament. The Australian walked on to Rod Laver Arena to a rousing reception, despite the stadium court being below the 50% capacity it is restricted to due to COVID-19 guidelines.

Barty is expecting a testing battle against Keys, who played superbly earlier on Tuesday when defeating reigning French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova 6-3, 6-2. She has won two of her three outings against Keys, with the most recently in a quarter-final at Roland Garros in 2019, the year she claimed the title.

(with Reuters inputs)

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