"THIS IS BEAUTIFUL": BRILLIANT BARTY MAKES EARLY STATEMENT


Photograph: Reuters

World No. 1 Ash Barty barely raised a sweat on her way to a comfortable first-round victory over Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko at the Australian Open.


Barty was at her brilliant best and simply too good for the former world No. 23 in the 6-0, 6-1 victory on Rod Laver Arena. It’s the second time the Aussie has defeated Tsurenko in the first round of the Australian Open, with Barty claiming their 2020 encounter in three sets.


The result also marks the second year in a row that Barty opened her Australian Open campaign with a win in under an hour.


In 2021, Barty defeated Montenegrin Danka Kovinic 6-0, 6-0 in just 44 minutes. This time around, the two-time Grand Slam champion finished the job in 54 minutes to earn an early night.


After spending a year on the road in 2021, Barty was thrilled to be back playing in front of a home crowd at Rod Laver Arena.


“I mean, this is beautiful. I’ve said it a few times, it’s felt like an eternity since I have been back on this beautiful court,” Barty said in her on-court interview.


“It’s certainly nice to be back on home soil now and playing as well as I did tonight, it was a lot of fun out here.”


Barty was clinical from the get-go and didn’t give Tsurenko an inch until the penultimate game of the match. The Aussie hit 14 winners and managed to keep her unforced errors to a respectable 17 given the blustery conditions on centre court.


“I felt like it was nice and clean and I did a good job in adjusting; there is quite a little bit of wind at court level here so I thought I did a good job,” Barty said.


“Overall, I felt like I was able to find my forehands, control the court with my forehand and I felt like tonight it was just nice and solid.


“To get out here and play a decent match and just feel like I enjoyed it, I think that’s the most important thing.”


The No. 1 ranked player in the world is yet to lose a match in 2022 following her run to the title at the Adelaide International 1 just over a week ago.


Additionally, Barty’s serve hasn’t been broken in 41 games - a stretch dating back to her opening match of the Adelaide International 1 against Cori Gauff.


“I think I did a pretty good job of winning first and second points [on serve]. And if I didn't, I was able to call that back and not dig myself into a hole where I was fighting off two or three break points in a row,” Barty said in her press conference.


“I think being able to manage service games has been really good, but also not trying to overemphasise the fact that if I do get behind in games it's a bad thing.”


Barty's next opponent is Italian qualifier Lucia Bronzetti who defeated Russian Varvara Gracheva in straight sets to set up the clash.