One step away from the final
As the senior partner in a blossoming Australian doubles partnership, Casey Dellacqua senses the opportunity for something special at the Australian Open this week.
The 27-year-old West Australian and 16-year-old Queenslander Ashleigh Barty powered into the women’s doubles semi-finals at Melbourne Park with an emphatic straight sets win over Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 6-2 6-3.
For Barty, a Grand Slam semifinal is uncharted territory and the excitement is building and bubbling over.
So too for Dellacqua, who already has a Grand Slam mixed doubles title under her belt.
She won the 2011 French Open with American Scott Lipsky, and has been in the women’s doubles semi-finals before at the Australian Open - with Francesca Schiavone four years ago when the duo lost.
But she believes the prospect of her and Barty being able to achieve something special at their home Grand Slam is now a real one.
“I think this is a great opportunity for Ash and I,” Dellacqua said.
“I didn’t think I’d win the mixed doubles at the French Open, but you keep taking it match by match. Before you know it, you’re in the final. then anything can happen.
“It’s a great opportunity, and we’re making the most of it.
“I didn’t expect to be in the semi-final of a Grand Slam. We’re both pretty pumped.”
Dellacqua and Barty have already won a doubles title together, winning in Toyota, Japan late last year.
Already the duo have knocked out the No.3 seeds at Melbourne Park - Maria Kirilenko and experienced Lisa Raymond - and now face American Varvara Lepchenko and Zheng Saisai of China in the semis.
Barty, from Springfield near Ipswich, has already impressed in the Hopman Cup to kick-start her year and with understandable teenage exuberance, is relishing the opportunity for a Grand Slam title.
“It’s unbelievable. We played well, we’re pretty excited,” she said.
“To be in the semis, to give ourselves a chance to be in the final, it’s unbelievable.”
Italy’s Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, the top seeds, play Russian duo Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in the other semi-final.