WILL EVANS’ daily preview serves up Australian Open tips for Ash Barty’s quarter-final assignment against American Jessica Pegula.

Australian Open Tips – Ashleigh Barty V Jessica Pegula

19:00 (AEDT), Tue 25th Jan @ Melbourne Park

History: Played 1: Barty 1 V Pegula 0

Last meeting: French Open, 2019 (R128): Barty d Pegula 6-3 6-3

Final Thoughts: World No.1 Ash Barty has been backed in to $1.72 to become the first Aussie champion at the Australian Open in 44 years after four sizzling straight-sets wins.

Barty lost just three games in disposing of Lesia Tsurenko and Lucia Bronzetti, before eliminating 30th seed Camila Giorgi 6-2 6-3 in emphatic style.

In-form tyro Amanda Anisimova shaped as a tough fourth-round opponent, but Barty came through that challenge with a 6-4 6-3 victory. Incredibly, she has lost just one game on serve so far (Anisimova broke a 63-game streak of service games held in the second set). Meanwhile, her composure and power hitting are at best-ever levels.

The 2019 French Open and 2021 Wimbledon champ reached the Australian Open quarters in 2019 and ’21 either side of a semi-final appearance in 2020. But Barty seems absolutely primed to break the home champion drought in coming days.

Pegula shoots for first Slam semi

Her quarter-final opponent is 21st seed Jessica Pegula. After dropping the first set of her campaign against Anhelina Kalinina, the American has accounted for Bernarda Pera (6-4 6-4), Nuria Prrizas-Diaz (7-6 6-2) and fifth seed Maria Sakkari (7-6 6-3) in straight sets.

The 27-year-old Pegula is appearing in just her 13th Grand Slam. She has made it beyond the third round for only the second time. She reached the quarters in Melbourne last year, where she lost to compatriot Jennifer Brady in a three-setter.

Barty won the pair’s only previous encounter. A then-unheralded Pegula was her first-round victim on the way to the 2019 French Open title, carving out a 6-3 6-3 victory.

Pegula is a quality, well-rounded player. But it is going to take something beyond what Pegula is capable of producing to derail the Barty juggernaut.

Tip: Games Handicap – Barty -5.5 @ $1.85

AUSTRALIAN OPEN TIPS

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