|2020 Australian Open|
|Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 20 January to 2 February|
|Thursday’s order of play on Rod Laver Arena: Not before 03:00 GMT: Ashleigh Barty (Aus)  v Sofia Kenin (US) ; Followed by: Simona Halep (Rom)  v Garbine Muguruza (Spa); 08:30 GMT: Roger Federer (Swi)  v Novak Djokovic (Ser) |
|Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and online; Live text on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app; Watch highlights on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer.|
World number one Ashleigh Barty is not being swept away with growing public excitement as she bids to become the first home woman to reach the Australian Open final in 40 years.
Barty, 23, faces American Sofia Kenin in the semi-finals on Thursday.
Romanian fourth seed Simona Halep and Spain’s Garbine Muguruza meet in the other last-four match.
“Obviously it’s exciting. But I don’t pay attention to it, honestly,” French Open champion Barty said.
“I’m here to try and do the best that I can. Hopefully I can bring a smile to a few faces around our country and around the world.”
Barty, who took a break from tennis in 2014 to pursue a professional cricket career, won her first Grand Slam on the Roland Garros clay last June.
Now she has reached the semi-finals at Melbourne Park for the first time after beating Czech seventh seed Petra Kvitova, who won their quarter-final last year, on Tuesday.
The Queenslander is the first Australian woman to reach the last four since Wendy Turnbull in 1984 and now bids to end the long wait since Turnbull in 1980 by reaching the final.
Ultimately she is aiming to emulate Chris O’Neil – the last Australian to win a singles title in 1978 – by winning the trophy.
“This is a new experience for me,” Barty said. “I’m just going to try and take it in my stride, learn as much as I can and go from there.”
Kenin, 21, is also set for a new experience when she plays in her first Grand Slam semi-final.
But the 14th seed knows how to deal with big-name opponents having knocked 23-time major champion Serena Williams out of the French Open last year.
“I feel like that match really changed things,” said Kenin, who was born in Russia before moving to the United States a few months later.
“Obviously saw that I can play on this level, I could play with the best. Of course, it just happens to be Serena, my idol.
“I feel like after that, things took off.”
Strong semi-final line-up
Despite only four of the top-10 seeds reaching the fourth round, a strong semi-final line-up features three Grand Slam champions alongside debutant Kenin.
Halep, the reigning Wimbledon champion and 2018 French Open winner, is looking to reach her second Australian Open final after losing to Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki two years ago.
After winning majors on the grass and the clay, she is yet to triumph on a hard court at the Australian Open or US Open.
“Any Grand Slam, it’s a priority. I will not just choose one,” the 28-year-old Romanian said.
“But, of course, it’s going to be great if I will be able to win one on hard court.”
Like Halep, Muguruza won her maiden Grand Slam at Roland Garros – in 2016 – before following that up with another success at the All England Club 12 months later.
The unseeded 26-year-old slipped down to 36th in the world at the end of last year, little over two years after she was ranked number one.
“You just have to be patient and go through the rough moments, just hang in there and it will come back again,” she said.
Muguruza has looked closer to her best in Melbourne, having reunited with former coach Conchita Martinez – the 1994 Wimbledon champion – at the start of the season.
“It’s like couples – we all want Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston to get back together, right,” Martinez joked earlier this week.
Article courtesy of BBC Sport