History beckons for Ash Barty as she marches into the Australian Open semi-finals on a quest to break the host nation's 44-year singles title drought.
The world No.1 continues to go from strength to strength at Melbourne Park, as evidenced by her 6-2 6-0 thrashing of 21st seed Jessica Pegula on Tuesday night.
She faces another American, former US Open runner-up Madison Keys, on Thursday for a place in the final.
Barty reached the last four in Melbourne two years ago, losing to eventual champion Sofia Kenin, but is confident of going further this time.
"I've grown as a person, I've grown as a player," the top seed said.
"I feel like I'm a more complete tennis player.
"I've got a few more years of experience under my belt in handling different situations and being able to problem solve out on court.
"It's a credit to my team; they've done so much work behind the scenes to make me the best version of myself and I'm absolutely loving playing out here.
"It's bringing a smile to my face. It's been a lot of fun so far and hopefully there's a little bit more left."
Barty is yet to drop a set at the Open this year and declared the thrashing of Pegula her "best tennis" of the tournament so far.
The demolition job took little more than an hour to complete.
Barty set the tone with a break of her opponent's serve in the opening game and held her own serve at each time of asking, offering up just one break point in seven games.
The 25-year-old Queenslander sent down six aces and generated an 81 per cent winning rate on her first serve, while smacking 17 winners to Pegula's seven.
"That was solid tonight, I had a lot of fun out here," Barty said.
"I was able to serve and find a lot of forehands in the centre of the court, and I was happy to take the game on, be aggressive off my forehand and not worry if I miss a couple as long as I'm doing the right things.
"I felt like I was able to do that throughout the whole match.
"I love to test myself against her and she came out here and really made me play my best tennis so far this week."
It was Barty's second career win over Pegula and perhaps a good omen, given the previous occasion was in the first round at Roland Garros in 2019.
Barty went on to win that French Open title for her first major.
Pegula's defeat was the second sporting blow for her family this week after the Buffalo Bills -- the NFL team her billionaire father Terry Pegula owns -- lost a heartbreaking divisional play-off game in overtime on Monday (AEDT).
The 27-year-old later admitted she felt "helpless" against Barty in that sort of form.
"There wasn't much I could do," Pegula said.
Barty is on the verge of becoming the first local women's Open finalist since Wendy Turnbull in 1980.
Chris O'Neill was the last Australian woman to win the title in 1978.
Australian Associated Press
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