'Not surprised': Ash trusts the process after another win
The Australian Open's saviour lives on with Ash Barty continuing her barnstorming run into the quarterfinals.
With no crowds and no Nick Kyrgios to keep everyone amused, a lot of the heavy lifting for the tournament has been left to the world No.1 and she again didn't miss a beat against her fourth round opponent Shelby Rogers.
The pair had met 11 days ago and the result was the same with the Australian clinical in her execution, 6-3 6-4, in just 71 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
An excited Barty said she was looking forward to her third consecutive quarter-final at Melbourne Park.
"I'm not done with yet," she said.
"Obviously it's exciting to be in another quarterfinal of a grand slam, particularly here in Australia.
"And just, I mean, if we had looked at the way we were preparing during our preseason to have the start that we have had so far is really encouraging
"But certainly not satisfied with where we're at at the moment. We will keep chipping away and keep trying to do the right things to progress as far as we can."
Asked if she was surprised at how well she'd come back after taking 11 months off because of COVID-19 last year, Barty praised the program set out by her coach Craig Tyzzer.
"I think I know that I've done the work," she said.
"I know that we prepared in the right way during the pre-season.
"We've done all the work to try to give myself the opportunity to play a good level of tennis and to a level that I know I'm capable of.
"It's just knowing that I put the trust in the work that we've done, more than surprising myself.
"I think I've known that I've done the work. I have the ability to play at this level and then it's just about going about all of our processes, our routines the right way.
"All of those came back quite naturally. It's something that I've practiced a lot, and I gain my confidence from that practice and from those pre-seasons as opposed to just match results."
Barty's serve and her new increased power game was at full throttle on Monday night as she again kept a clean slate having not dropped a set for the entire tournament.
While Rogers, the world No.57, had pushed Barty in their meeting at the Yarra Valley Classic - 7-5 2-6 10-4 (match tie-break) - she was quickly on the back foot early.
Her serve was broken in the fourth game with it obvious Barty had more energy in her legs as she moved the taller American around at will.
It was almost like she'd flicked the switch for another level to start the second week of the tournament in which she was a semi-finalist last year.
The only minor wobble came late in the second set when Barty was serving for the match but she quickly got back on track to put an end to Rogers.
Once again Barty had tape strapped around her left thigh with dark bruising visible from a minor injury which she sustained earlier in the tournament.
But it's clearly not causing her any issues given the dominance displayed against Rogers.
The draw has been kind for the local hero with some big names disappearing in her half with her quarter-final opponent the 25th seed Czech Karolina Muchova.
Muchova fought back from 0-4 in the first set to defeat Belgium's 18th seed Elise Mertens 7-6 (5) 7-5.
Should Barty prevail as expected she then faces the winner of an All-American quarter-final between unseeded Jessica Pegula and 22nd seed Jennifer Brady.
The 24-year-old's return to the game after an extended break has been the feelgood story of the Open which has been gripped by controversy, disappearing seeds and injuries.
The 2019 French Open champion is undefeated in her return to the court having won the warm-up tournament the Yarra Valley Classic, the ninth of her career.
She started her Open campaign with an emphatic 6-0 6-0 victory over Danka Kovinic and has been barely threatened since.
Barty is aiming to become the first No.1 seed to lift the Australian Open trophy since Serena Williams in 2015.
And she is chasing a slice of local history given the last Aussie woman to win the Open was Chris O'Neil back in 1978.
Originally published as 'Not surprised': Ash trusts the process after another dominant win