Home favourite Ash Barty breezed into round 3 at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Wednesday, overwhelming Lucia Bronzetti on Rod Laver Arena, and she next faces another Italian in Camila Giorgi, while Barbora Krejcikova and Paula Badosa also advanced, but Amanda Anisimova stopped Belinda Bencic’s progress.
No, I mean, red shoes go faster, right? That’s the whole thing behind it. I love the outfit I’m in in Fila this year. The red shoes are cool. Not often am I one to wear bright shoes, but no, they’re pretty cool this year. Ash Barty
After a second flawless performance lasting just 52 minutes, Barty barely broke sweat as she powered past the Italian qualifier, 6-1 6-1.
The ultra-consistent Aussie World No 1, who won the first warm-up tournament in Adelaide, has yet to drop her serve in 48 straight games over her 5 matches this year.
“I felt like we had a good preparation in Adelaide,” said the two-time Grand Slam champion, who is chasing a first title at her home Grand Slam. “We played well, played throughout tough matches. [Coach] Craig Tyzzer is the master.
“I feel like our whole team works extremely well together. We’re enjoying our tennis and being able to produce some pretty good stuff.”
Barty showed her opponent no mercy and flew to 5-0 before Bronzetti finally got herself onto the board, but that was the only joy for the Italian as the Aussie wrapped up the first set in 25 minutes.
It was more of the same in the second, although Bronzetti put up slightly more resistance, and Barty secured a double break to surge towards 4-1 before finishing the job, hammering 11 winners to 7 unforced errors to seal the deal in under an hour.
Bronzetti, ranked 142, failed to muster a single break point over the contest as the Wimbledon champion lobbed, sliced and pounded her into submission in the bright Melbourne sunshine.
A proud indigenous Australian, Barty followed in the footsteps of trailblazer Evonne Goolagong Cawley by winning the Wimbledon title last year.
She spoke glowingly of Goolagong Cawley’s influence on young indigenous athletes and said she was glad she was able to play on the AO’s inaugural First Nations Peoples Day.
“It was nice for me to be a part of it in a way that I feel most comfortable, I suppose,” Barty said. “Out on the tennis court is how I express myself as an athlete, it’s how I’m able to express myself as a person as well.
“On a day we’re bringing cultures together, it was really nice for me to go out and enjoy that.
“Just met a few of the kids that have come down from Alice Springs and all around Australia, which is amazing for them.”
Barty is sporting red shoes these days and was asked if these were a nod to the Wizard of Oz.
“No, I mean, red shoes go faster, right? That’s the whole thing behind it,” she responded with a smile. “I love the outfit I’m in in Fila this year.
“The red shoes are cool. Not often am I one to wear bright shoes, but no, they’re pretty cool this year.”
Meanwhile, Krejcikova, the 4th-seeded Czech, also eased into the 3rd round in Melbourne for the first time in her career with a 6-2 6-3 victory over Chinese wild-card Wang Xiyu.
The reigning Roland Garros champion, who fell in the second round of the last two AOs, needed an hour and 17 minutes to beat the 20-year-old left-hander, currently ranked 139.
Krejcikova converted 7 of her 12 break points to claim her second swift win, having dropped just 2 games in her opening-round against former Top 10 player Andrea Petkovic from Germany.
The Czech struck 5 more winners and 10 fewer unforced errors than Wang as she used heavy forehands and superb point construction to move the Chinese around the court and sweep through the first set.
Krejcikova served for the match at 5-2 in the second before Wang broke back to extend proceedings, but 4 straight errors off of the Chinese forehand gave her a love break in the next game to close out the contest.
Elsewhere, 8th seed Paula Badosa was more emphatic, the in-form Spaniard winning 6-0 6-3 against Martina Trevisan, another Italian qualifier.
It was Badosa’s 7th match in 10 days but the Spaniard said she is holding up well.
“[I feel] pretty good,” said the new World No 6, who only broke into the top 20 for the first time in October last year. “It wasn’t an easy match.
“It was a tricky match against Martina. We know each other since long time. She’s a fighter. I’m pretty happy about the win today.”
Badosa is becoming a real contender for a maiden Grand Slam title after winning the Sydney Tennis Classic last week, and easing through her first 2 matches at Melbourne Park with the loss of only 7 games.
It is a stark contrast with last year when, ranked 70th in the world, she spent 21 days in Melbourne quarantine after contracting COVID-19, and crashed out in the first round to a qualifier.
“I’m really proud of myself,” the 24-year-old said. “After all, one year ago I was locked in a room.
“Being here and playing centre court, because of me, not because I’m playing a seeded player, because now I’m the seeded player, I’m happy.”
Badosa rallied after an inauspicious start to 2021 to win her first 2 WTA titles, including Indian Wells, and ended the season reaching the last four at the WTA Finals.
Next up is Ukrainian teenager Marta Kostyuk, who she beat in the final round of qualifying at Melbourne Park in their only previous meeting in 2019.
Kostyuk upset Sara Sorrribes Tormo, the No 32 seed from Spain, 7-6(5) 6-3, earlier in the day.
In another upset, Anisimova kept her winning streak alive by taking out Bencic, the Swiss No 22 seed, 6-2 7-5.
Early break deficits were quickly erased, and the American teenager sealed a comprehensive win over the reigning Olympic gold medalist.
Broken in the first game of the match, Anisimova quickly restored order in an opening set that lasted just over a half hour by winning the last 4 games.
A 3-2 lead for Bencic also evaporated in the second, and the Swiss struggled with an apparent injury down the stretch as she needed an on-court medical timeout.
Anisimova’s crisp hitting also proved problematic for Bencic as she tallied 28 winners and 7 aces, nearly tripling Bencic’s total of winners.
Elsewhere, two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka also sealed a comfortable 6-1 6-2 victory over Swiss Jil Teichmann.
The Belarusian World No 25, who won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, will next play Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, ranked 17.
Seeded 15, Svitolina advanced when Harmony Tan retired from their match with a knee issue and left the court in a wheelchair.
Tan was devastated when she was forced to retire after Svitolina had looked to be cruising, winning the first set 6-3, before the Frenchwoman bounced back in the second to level things up.
Determined to play on, the chair umpire encouraged Tan to retire because her calf injury was so troubling and down 6-3 5-7 5-1 she called it a day.
Former US Open runner-up Madison Keys staved off a late comeback attempt by Jaqueline Cristian to beat the Romanian, 6-2 7-5, and the American, who won Adelaide last week, has now won 7 straight matches.
“I’m feeling pretty good. I really had to fight in that second set to close it out in two,” Keys said. “I’m really just appreciating every moment on court and trying to have a lot of fun, but I also just really love competing even in those tough moments.
“Not a lot of people in the world get to be on a stage at 5-5 in the second to make the third round of the Australian Open, so I’m really just enjoying those moments.”