Barty roars back to make winning start in Melbourne
World number one and home hope Ashleigh Barty suffered a scare before she “tightened the screws” to power into the second round of the Australian Open.
The 23-year-old recovered from an error-strewn start to see off Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 under the roof at a partisan and wet Melbourne.
Barty, under huge pressure to deliver a home women’s champion for the first time since Chris O’Neil in 1978, plays Polona Hercog of Slovenia or Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson next.
Poster girl Barty, who joked on the eve of her opener that she was sick of seeing her picture everywhere, is the face of the first Grand Slam of the year.
A nation expects, and Barty said after dismissing the 120th-ranked Ukrainian that she had always felt in control, despite the indifferent start.
“Look, I think I was pressing a little bit early, made a few too many errors,” said Barty, fresh from winning her first title on home soil, in Adelaide, on Saturday.
“Was able to tighten the screws in the second set and run away with it.
“Yes, it was disappointing to not start as well as I would have liked.
“Being able to kind of rectify that and fix that so quickly at the start of the second set was really important,” the Australian added.