• Ashleigh Barty in the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium. (AAP)Source: AAP
Ngaragu superstar Ashleigh Barty has defended her world No. 1 title and remains defending champion at the Miami Tennis Open.
31 Mar 2021 - 5:14 PM  UPDATED 31 Mar 2021 - 5:14 PM

Ngaragu superstar Ashleigh Barty has maintained her world No. 1 title, and remains defending champion at the Miami Tennis Open.

Barty will advance to the semi-finals after facing seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus, battling her in the heat and humidity of southern Florida.

After a twelve month break from international competition due to the coronavirus pandemic, Barty put in the effort on the tennis court to win against Sabalenk.

She won the final nine points to prevail 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3 in a quarter-final face off for her third three-set win in four matches this tournament.

Barty was stoked to be back in the game, facing seven break points in the match and saving them all.

"You can't see here but there's a massive smile behind my mask, it's always nice to come back to somewhere where you've had good memories, this was one of my favourite weeks in my career a couple of years ago, it's where I broke into the top ten. It's just a tournament that I love coming back to," she said.

Barty and Sabalenka were allowed a 10-minute break before starting the third set due to the punishing heat, though the world number one didn't seem too fazed by the sun.

It was at the Miami Open where Barty first broke into the top ten ranking of professional women tennis players, something she cites as one of her most memorable career highlights.

She is now 18-3 in her past 21 three-setters, 10-1 in her last 11 quarter-finals and 12-3 in her past 15 meetings against fellow top-10 players.

Moving closer to cementing her world number one ranking, Barty was happy with how she performed.

"That was certainly the best level I’ve played for a long time and certainly for a sustained period, I really had to look after my service games and I did that really well today. Then I needed to be as aggressive as I could inside the court.”

If Barty takes a win against fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina or Anastasija Sevastova in the semi-finals then she will fend off the challenge of Naomi Osaka from Japan, for the number one ranking.

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