Tennis-Barty sees off Siniakova challenge to reach fourth round

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·3 min read
Tennis: Wimbledon
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LONDON (Reuters) -Top seed Ash Barty dispatched Katerina Siniakova at Wimbledon on Saturday, fending off an opponent who would have fancied her chances after dropping serve just once in the last two rounds and with six career wins against top-10 opponents.

The world number one prevailed 6-3 7-5 on Centre Court to reach the last 16 after Czech Siniakova posed a resolute challenge while failing to find answers to the Australian's immaculate sliced returns and spin in their first meeting.

"Certainly wasn't going smoothly. I think it was a hell of a match right from the first point," Barty said in her on-court interview. "Katerina brought an incredible level and it was a lot of fun playing out here.

"I knew I had to play very near my best to be able to compete with her today so I'm happy to be able to play some good stuff."

Next up for Barty will be Siniakova's doubles partner and 14th seed Barbora Krejcikova, who has won 15 successive singles matches including titles at Strasbourg and a maiden Grand Slam triumph at Roland Garros.

"Another great challenge, an incredible challenge," Barty said of her next opponent.

"I'm very privileged to be in the second week of Wimbledon again. This is genuinely one of my favourite weeks of the year so to be prolonging my stay is a lot of fun but I'm looking forward to the challenge.

"Barbora's been playing some incredible stuff recently. I've never played her before, so it's going to be a new one."

Siniakova won the doubles title with Krejcikova at the All England Club in 2018 - the Czech pair also won the French Open last month - but is no pushover when it comes to singles.

BARTY HOMEWORK

With the 25-year-old boasting wins in the past against players like Serena Williams, Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka, Barty needed to do her homework properly against an opponent just a couple of weeks younger than her.

The Australian, whose best performance at Wimbledon was also a run to the fourth round in 2019, denied Siniakova pace on the ball and used her backhand slices and drop shots heavily.

The 64th-ranked Czech was often left dejected and deflated as she failed to dig out the sharply dropping returns from the Australian, who won her maiden major at the French Open in 2019.

But what Siniakova lacked in skill, she made up for with determination.

She had a chance to get an early break but hit a volley wide on break point with the entire court open.

Barty stayed calm and composed and a single break was enough for her in the opening set and the Australian seemed to be cruising with a double break and a 3-0 lead in the second.

After another failed return against a Barty slice, Siniakova's frustrations rose and she vented her ire with a swipe of her racket, getting a warning from the umpire who thought she had hit the grass.

Siniakova had avoided the grass and hit her shoe, though her protests made no difference.

The Czech, however, managed to calm down and staged a late fightback by getting both service breaks back.

She saved a match point to get the set back on serve at 5-5 but Barty broke immediately and then closed out the contest when a backhand return from her opponent sailed long.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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