Ash Barty moves into the third round of the Australian Open with a scrappy 6-1 7-6(7) win over fellow Australian Daria Gavrilova on Rod Laver Arena.
Gavrilova was on a 13-month foot injury break until September and entered the fortnight with just three tournament appearances under her belt since the comeback, but the world number one was simply too powerful for the 26-year-old.
Barty will play Barbora Krejcikova or Ekaterina Alexandrova in the next round.
Gavrilova broke in the opening game after Barty, who had 15 months away from tennis herself before this year’s Australian Open, fired a forehand into the net.
But Barty immediately broke back before doing so again twice as she raced to a 6-1 finish much to the visible annoyance of Gavrilova.
The second set was similarly straightforward. Barty double faulted in the opening game yet again before winning the next five games in a row.
But Gavrilova impressively fought back with four successive games of her own, forcing the tie-break. Barty won it after saving two Gavrilova set points.
“It’s so nice to see her [Gavrilova] back,” she said post-match. “She’s had a bit of a tricky run with injury over the last 18 months or so. It’s nice to see her back out here and competing.
“When you’re playing another Aussie the rankings go out of the window, experience goes out of the window. We know each other very well, it was always going to be a tricky match no matter what but I’m so pleased she’s back out here competing and healthy again.
“Different conditions in here today. It’s a bit warmer and fair bit windier on court level which makes it a bit tricky but it’s just trying to be the best I can be every single day whatever that level is. Just making sure that I apply myself as best I can so I can walk off the court with my head held high.
“Having 12 months off is a little bit rusty but I’m certainly happy with how I’ve been able to fight through the last couple of weeks.
“I’m fit as a fiddle, I’m good to go. It’s been nice to get some matches and my general form is good.”