A shattered Ash Barty has delivered a touching moment in her Australian Open press conference after arriving with a baby in her arms.
A shattered Ash Barty has delivered a touching moment in her Australian Open press conference after arriving with a baby in her arms.

Barty melts fans after Open heartbreak

A heartbroken Ash Barty has used her new niece Olivia to get past the pain of her semi-final elimination at the Australian Open. Barty looked a broken figure as she walked off Rod Laver Arena following her defeat at the hands of Sofia Kenin on Thursday, but walked into her press conference with a broad grin on her face.

The reason for the dramatic turnaround was her 11-week-old niece.

Barty entered the room with her niece in her arms and the beautiful bubs didn't leave her arms once in the entire nine-minute press conference.

"It's not mine," Barty said with her cheeky grin as she entered the room.

Olivia threatened to hijack the press conference at times as Barty showered her with attention before answering questions from the world's press.

"This is my newest niece. My sister just had her 11, 12 weeks ago. This is what life is all about. It's amazing," Barty said.

Barty regularly looked down and talked to her niece in a goo-goo baby voice as the questions came in from reporters.

She even joked the reporters would have more luck getting good answers out of Olivia than herself.

"Her name's Olivia. She's telling you that right now. Perspective is a beautiful thing. Life is a beautiful thing. She brought a smile to my face as soon as I walked off the court. I get to give her a hug and it's all good. It's all good."

Ash Barty rocks up to presser with her niece.
Ash Barty rocks up to presser with her niece.

Taking solace in family, Barty put on the bravest of faces as she had to explain to the world's media why she simply had no answers to inspired American Kenin.

Barty won just three points less than Kenin in the fiercely contested 7-6 (8-6) 7-5 loss, but says the No. 14 seed never allowed her to get comfortable in the stinging 39C heat.

"I didn't feel super comfortable. I felt like my first plan wasn't working. I couldn't execute the way that I wanted. I tried to go to B and C," Barty said.

"I try and go out and play the way I want to play. If it doesn't work, I know I have different tools I can go to.

"I tried to go to those tools today. Unfortunately I couldn't quite scrap enough to get over the line."

Barty earlier showed no signs of discomfort in conceding only four points in her first five service games.

But she rued missing three break-point chances in the sixth game, then blowing two set points from 6-4 up in the tiebreaker.

Then the top seed paid the ultimate price for squandering a 5-3 lead in the second set and wasting two more set points while trying to level the match up.

"I'm two points away from winning that in straight sets, which is disappointing," she said after falling short in her quest to become the first Australian woman to make an Open final since Wendy Turnbull in 1980.

Ash Barty on the podium with her niece
Ash Barty on the podium with her niece

"Yeah, it's disappointing, but it's been a hell of a summer.

"If you had told me three weeks ago that we would have won a tournament in Adelaide, made the semi-finals of the Australian Open, I'd take that absolutely every single day of the week.

"But I put myself in a position to win the match today and just didn't play the biggest points well enough to be able to win.

"I have to give credit where credit's due. Sofia came out and played aggressively on those points and deserved to win."

Barty also refused to blame the intense heat or the pressure of being the great home hope for her flat performance.

"I've been in a grand slam semi-final before. Yes, it's different at home but I enjoyed the experience," Barty said.

"I love being out there. I've loved every minute of playing in Australia over the last month.

"Yeah, I could have had an opportunity to go one more match, but we didn't quite get that today."

- with AAP