Melbourne, January 17: World number one Ash Barty kicked off her Australian Open title bid with a convincing straight-sets victory over Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko on Monday (January 17).
The two-time grand slam winner, whose previous best finish on home soil at Melbourne Park was a run to the semi-finals in 2020, prevailed 6-0 6-1 in a time of just 54 minutes.
Barty held serve throughout the one-sided contest with Tsurenko and is now unbroken in 41 successive service games across her last four matches.
"It's certainly nice to be back on home soil and playing as well as I did tonight. It was a lot of fun out here," Barty said in her on-court interview.
"I felt like it was nice and clean. End-to-end I did a good job in adjusting. Tonight it was just nice and solid to get out here and play a decent match and feel like I enjoyed it."
Tsurenko took Barty to three sets when they met in this competition two years ago, but the world number 113 was outclassed on this occasion.
Looking to build on her recent Adelaide International success, Barty eased through the first set as she dropped just 12 points.
Barty was just as dominant in the second set, but she squandered two match points in the sixth game to miss out on a double-bagel to begin her campaign in Melbourne.
Not that it mattered a great deal, though, as the 25-year-old emphatically served out the match to set up a meeting with Italian qualifier Lucia Bronzetti for a place in round three.
DATA SLAM: Barty makes statement start
Barty came through this first-round match with minimal stress and looks in great shape as she bids to become the first Australian to win here since 1978.
The pressure is no doubt on as the pre-tournament favourite, with no top-seeded player in the women's draw failing to make at least round four since Virginia Ruzici in 1979.
Barty – 14/17
Tsurenko – 4/21
Barty – 5/0
Tsurenko – 0/1
BREAK POINTS WON
Barty – 5/8
Tsurenko – 0/2