Ash Barty secured her smooth progression through to the last 16 with a comfortable victory over Ekaterina Alexandrova at the 2021 Australian Open.
The top seed and world number one, playing in the first of the evening encounters on Rod Laver Arena, had to battle at times but still won through with relative ease.
While Alexandrova broke the Barty serve and was competitive throughout, the 29th seed could not quite match her opponent’s intensity.
Barty was broken in the first game of the match and then had to battle back again after being broken in the second set.
But Alexandrova’s serve was breached on many occasions as the Australian stamped her authority on the match, and she secured the win with a fifth and final break of serve.
“It’s very strange, I’ve never experienced it before in my life,” she said, of having no fans. “It changes the sound of the court. Bit rude but I like it. I love the crowd but I loved the sound of the ball.”
On her opponent, she added: “I’ve never played with her before and never hit with her before.
“I just had to figure out where I wanted to place the ball and change my patterns, but I was happy with the run I was able to get on.”
The 2019 French Open champion is aiming to become the first home Australian Open singles champion since 1978.
Next up for the Australian will be a last-16 clash with America’s Shelby Rogers, who beat 21st seed Anett Kontaveit to progress.