Barty keeps dream alive as she eases into Wimbledon semis
Ashleigh Barty kept alive her dream of winning the women's Wimbledon title on the 50th anniversary of fellow indigenous Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley's first win by easing into the semi-finals on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old outclassed unseeded compatriot Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1, 6-3 to set up what promises to be a far more serious test of her ability on Thursday when she faces 2018 champion Angelique Kerber.
"It's the ultimate test," said Barty. "Angie's had success here before. I love that match-up. She knows her way around this court and I know I need to play well to give myself a chance in that match.
"This is a dream come true."
Barty seized control of the match from the off breaking Tomljanovic twice early on and then broke the 28-year-old for a third time to win the first set 6-1.
Barty plays fellow Australian Ajla Tomljanovic with the winner to play 2018 champion Angelique Kerber in Thursday's semi-final.
Kerber -- who beat Karolina Muchova 6-2, 6-3 -- is the only one of the quartet who will contest them 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.
Earlier Pliskova reached her first Wimbledon semi-final outclassing Switzerland's Viktorija Golubic 6-2, 6-2.
Tuesday is also seeing maximum crowds at Wimbledon for the first time this tournament after the Covid-19 limit of 50% capacity was lifted.
"It's kind of going to be a new situation, a new scenario, one that I'm going to look forward to.
"I'm going to enjoy it no matter what. I think it's a stepping stone to what is kind of one of my biggest dreams. We just keep chipping away."
Tomljanovic is in her first Grand Slam quarter-final at the age of 28 and although she regretted the manner in which she got there - British teenager Emma Raducanu retiring from their match with breathing difficulties -- she is looking forward to Tuesday.
"I'm unbelievably proud of myself that I'm here," said the 28-year-old Australian.
"I didn't think these two weeks would be my breakthrough.
"Now that they are, it's kind of surreal. It just puts everything back into perspective."
Tomljanovic says her run to the quarter-final has banished ghosts of the past when she felt she choked at crucial moments.
"I'm just proud of the fact that I faced some tough moments in this tournament so far, in the second round, even the first and the third," she said.
"I've handled it well mentally."
Sabalenka let out a roar and pumped her arms in the air after outgunning Jabeur in the most entertaining of the first three quarter-finals.
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 to the remaining contenders 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."