Sun, Jun 23, 2019 - Page 11 News List

Barty refuses Murray offer, eases past Venus


Ashleigh Barty returns to Venus Williams during the Nature Valley Classic on Friday in Birmingham, England.

Photo: AP

French Open champion Ashleigh Barty on Friday said that her decision to rebuff Andy Murray’s offer to play mixed doubles at Wimbledon was “the hardest decision” she has ever had to make.

Murray on Thursday said that Barty was one of the players he had approached about playing mixed at Wimbledon, but she rejected the opportunity as she is already playing singles and women’s doubles with Victoria Azarenka at the All England Club next month.

“When Andy texted me asking me to play, I was a little bit shocked,” she said. “Obviously, I would have loved to have grabbed the opportunity to play with Andy, and I think it was the hardest decision I have ever had to make as to whether I’m playing an event or not.”

“I took some time to think about it and playing three events is just a little bit too much,” she added.

Australian star Barty on Friday made the Nature Valley Classic semi-finals by beating Venus Williams 6-4, 6-3 and now stands just two wins from becoming the world No. 1.

She extended her winning streak to 10 matches against five-time Wimbledon champion Williams.

“I feel like every match is getting a little bit better and better on the grass, and it’s just nice to give myself another opportunity to get on the grass courts and to play another singles match,” Barty said.

“It’s always a privilege to play against a champion like Venus,” she added. “She’s done incredible things for our sport. She’s inspired generations to pick up a tennis racket. Any time you get to play against her, it’s a real privilege.”

Williams made the better start as the 39-year-old took a 4-1 first-set lead.

The Australian had to stave off break points in her opening service game of the second set, but then took control with two breaks of the Williams serve to set up a meeting with Barbora Strycova in yesterday’s semi-finals.

Strycova got the better of an all-Czech battle to beat Kristyna Pliskova 6-2, 6-4 to reach the last four in Birmingham for the fourth time in six appearances.

In the other semi-final, German Julia Goerges takes on Petra Martic, who survived five match points to oust former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Martic trailed 5-2 in the second set having lost the first on a tie-break, but rallied to win the next five games before tearing through the third 6-1.

“I still can’t believe that I won this match,” Martic said.

Goerges, a Wimbledon semi-finalist last year, was far more comfortable in a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Yulia Putintseva, who on Thursday had knocked out world No. 1 Naomi Osaka.

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