Naomi Osaka may be the tournament favorite, but Ash Barty has something to say about that. The Australian gave home fans added hope with an dominating 6-0, 6-0 opening win in Melbourne over Danka Kovinic Monday night.
Barty, who just won a Sunday tune-up over Garbine Muguruza, won the first 16 points in the 44-minute destruction.
“I wanted to go out there and almost take the sting, take the pepper out of the match a little bit and get it on my terms as much as possible right from the get-go, and make it feel like she had a real mountain to climb,” she said. “I think that was probably the most pleasing overall.
“Right from the start I set the tone and was able to run away with it.”
Chris O’Neil in 1978 was the Australian woman to hold up this trophy. Barty could change that.
Muguruza also was sharp, getting a handle on things after tight first set in a 6-4, 6-0 win over Margarita Gasparyan.
“I was excited to start the Grand Slam already after few weeks here on-site and in Melbourne,” the 2020 finalist said.
“I think a very positive week. After having the quarantine and training, having an extra tournament to play on the same court, I feel like it was great no matter if I ended up losing the final or not.
“I feel like I did well. I also had many chances on the final. I mean, I think the hard work, it’s there, it’s showing on the court. I was excited to have this feeling towards a Grand Slam. I felt like I finished the final, and I had a day to train, then I was back on Margaret Court.”
Former 2-time champion Victoria Azarenka tumbled out to American Jessica Pegula 7-5, 6-4. Azarenka led Pegula 5-2 in the first but then began having medical issues and faded toward the end. After, she was not pleased being asked about the doctor visit.
“I don’t really know why we’re getting asked about some of, like, medical conditions from players because all this is going out on the Internet after for people to talk about, to judge about,” said Azarenka who was part of the 72 players hard quarantined.
“I truly don’t ever understand that rule of why, when somebody is sick, injured or whatever, they have to give their medical reason out in the world. I think that should be changed, unless players do want to talk about that, then they can. But it shouldn’t be a mandatory requirement for people to talk about their health issues. Even legally doctors should not release any information.
“In terms of that, I feel like that should put a bit of a light on a new and adjusted rule that should be in place.”
Sofia Kenin opened her title defense with a win, making it eight straight in Melbourne after eliminating Australian wildcard Maddison Ingliss 7-5, 6-4.
“Some nerves coming in,” said Kenin. “I’m sure everyone saw that. But, yeah, it’s obviously nice to get the win. I obviously love the court, have great memories. It was a little bit emotional.”
Former semifinalist Johanna Konta bowed out with an ab retirement. Elise Mertens, Jen Brady, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Sam Stosur and Karolina Pliskova were also winners.
On Wednesday, the second round begins with Serena and Venus Williams plus Osaka, Petra Kvitova, Simona Halep and Aryna Sabalenka.
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