Temperatures in Melbourne had not been this hot for some time.
Women’s semi-finals day brought out the sun and with that the tension increased as the first set progressed.
World number one Ash Barty was up against Sofia Kenin in what proved to be quite a tense affair out there.
Nothing really happened during the opening set. Service games were pretty straight forward, no one looked to make in-roads on with both players a little slow off the mark when the other was serving.
It took until the last two games of the set for a couple of questions to be asked but Barty held from 0-30 and Kenin went onto hold from 0-15 and 15-30 including a close call on the baseline which to everyones surprise the number one didn’t challenge.
Two of the opening three points went against the serve but it was Sofia Kenin who was the productive and forward thinking of the two. Ash Barty didn’t have many answers except to continue to use the backhand slice as a safety shot but her serve continued to be strong.
Two points on serve from the Australian made life comfortable for Barty who then opened a 4-2 lead in breaker with a forehand down the line.
An open court on the forehand of Barty at 4-3 and it was sent long and wide but followed it up with an inside-out forehand down the line for a 5-4 lead.
The racket of Kenin made it’s way to the ground after a 125kph serve got the treatment it deserved and two set points came the way of the Australian.
Inside-out forehand had come strong for both players as Kenin drew level at 6-6.
A poor slice from Barty invited in the American who got the job done at the net and would see a set point on her own serve.
A second serve looked like getting that inside-out treatment, the shot from Barty was the right one but it was executed into the net and Kenin took the opening set!
As the tension continued to rise as did the heat at Melbourne Park and play on the outside courts was suspended as the heat stress scale hit 5 which meant the roof on Rod Laver Arena would be shut after an equal number of games.
At one game a piece the roof surprisingly stayed open and play continued. The slice continued to be brought out by Barty and suddenly some noise on Rod Laver Arena after a slice down the line set up a break point and a backhand long from Kenin gifted a break of serve to the world number one.
Would this inspire both players to relax a little?
A shake of the head but a lead for Barty at 3-1.
Service holds continued to be in fashion but without any questions at all and eventually we got to 5-4 where Ash Barty would serve to take the match to a third set.
40-15 and two set points for the number quickly came and went. From this position Barty couldn’t find a first serve and the American broke following a drive volley into the net from the number one.
If only Ash Barty could have had an easy hold of serve like Kenin did at 5-5, the American didn’t drop a point and continued to use her personality to give her an extra edge on court, pump herself up where as Barty was quiet and in a shell.
Double fault and a forehand long from Barty, 0-30…
Another forehand long and the silence on Rod Laver Arena was all to real as Kenin had two match points!
One saved with a forehand pass to the delight of the home crowd but the job wasn’t done yet.
It wasn’t meant to be for the world number one on home turf today, Ash was too tight as was Kenin at times but she showed more spirit in a 7-6 7-5 win!