Barty keeps Cawley dream alive as Jabeur's Wimbledon ends

London (AFP) –


Ashleigh Barty on Tuesday moved a step closer to achieving her goal of winning the Wimbledon women's crown on the 50th anniversary of fellow indigenous Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley's first title victory.

Barty outplayed fellow Australian Ajla Tomljanovic -- appearing in her first Grand Slam quarter-final at the age of 28 -- winning 6-1, 6-3 to progress to the semi-finals.

World number one Barty, though, will need her top game if she is to reach the final as she plays in-form 2018 champion Angelique Kerber in Thursday's semi-finals.

Kerber, who beat Karolina Muchova 6-2, 6-3, is the only remaining player to have already been in the last four at the tournament.

Former world number one Karolina Pliskova will play Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in the other semi-final.

Sabalenka showed all the fighting qualities and power of the tiger tattoo she sports to end the historic run of Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, winning 6-4, 6-3.

Pliskova reached her first Wimbledon semi-final outclassing Switzerland's Viktorija Golubic 6-2, 6-2.

Sadly the quarter-finals did not provide the greatest of thrills or entertainment for the capacity crowd on Centre and Court One.

It was the first time the tournament has had maximum crowds after the Covid-19 limit of 50% capacity was lifted.

Some hardy souls armed with umbrellas and rugs sat on Henman Hill to watch on the big screen despite driving rain.

World number one Barty already has a 2019 French Open title to her credit but in previous years had yet to show she could add Wimbledon to the Grand Slam list despite winning the junior title in 2011.

Her best previous showing was a fourth round appearance in 2019.

Barty, though, seems motivated to win it on Cawley's anniversary even wearing a specially-designed dress in tribute to the 'iconic' scallop one Cawley wore for her 1971 title success.

She was delighted to have reached the last four even if Kerber is a formidable opponent especially on grass.

"It's the ultimate test," said Barty. "Angie's had success here before. I love that match-up.

"This is a dream come true."

- 'Magical place' -

Sabalenka let out a roar and pumped her arms in the air after outgunning Jabeur.

The second-seeded Sabalenka had won only once on her previous three visits to Wimbledon but she prevailed with some authority over her 26-year-old opponent.

"I'm happy it looks like everything is working for me," said Sabalenka, who will try and go one better than her compatriot Victoria Azarenka who lost twice in the semis in 2011 and 2012.

"It's really tricky, shots on the grass. It's sometimes hard to do anything with the ball.

"It fits my game and I'm really enjoying my time on the court."

Jabeur, who had several Tunisian supporters in the crowd, can depart having done all she could to achieve her goal that her success will galvanise a swathe of young Arab women, especially in North Africa, to take up the sport.

Kerber looks a real threat after the 33-year-old eased to success over Muchova.

"It's a magical place for me," said Kerber, who is a three-time major winner, after securing the 80th victory of her career on grass.

"I was excited to play the grass court season after a one year break. I am so happy having my heart on the court and enjoying my time."

Pliskova had little trouble in brushing aside Golubic with the unseeded Swiss only troubling the Czech towards the end of the match.

"This was my first appearance on Court One this year and I had to work really hard to get to this court," said Pliskova.

"I feel like I am improving with every match."