Tennis

Australian Open top seed Barty crushes Kovinic

Top seed Ashleigh Barty cruised into the second round of the Australian Open where she is bidding to become the first homegrown champion for 43 years.
Top seed Ashleigh Barty cruised into the second round of the Australian Open where she is bidding to become the first homegrown champion for 43 years. REUTERS - ASANKA BRENDON RATNAYAKE

Australian Open top seed Ashleigh Barty launched her bid to become the first homegrown women’s singles champion in 43 years with a quick-fire romp past Danka Kovinic on Tuesday.

Advertising

The 26-year-old from Montenegro was dispatched 6-0, 6-0 in 44 minutes.

“To play in front of you guys is a real honour, a privilege,” Barty told the fans on Rod Laver Arena. “This is what it’s all about, it’s incredible I felt great out here.”

On Sunday in the final of the Yarra Valley Classic, 24-year-old Barty beat the former world number one Garbine Muguruza 7-6, 6-4 to claim the ninth title of her career.

Contender

And she underlined her credentials as one of the contenders for the crown at the season’s opening Grand Slam tournament with a ruthless display.

The first set was over in 18 minutes and when the match ended on Kovinic’s 28th unforced error, Barty had won 50 of the 60 points contested.

As the coronavirus pandemic took hold in 2020, Barty opted to stay at home. She did not to travel to New York for the US Open nor did she go to Paris to defend her single’s title at the French Open in Paris.

“The competitor in me missed what this is all about,” she said of her time away from the circuit.

“I missed the last hour before we come out on the court when me and my coach chat about how we’re going to try and dissect the match.

“That’s what I missed the most; it’s coming out here and really enjoying that thrill and the fight.”

Wait

Chris O’Neil was the last Australian woman to claim the single’s title in Melbourne. That triumph came in 1978 at the expense of the American Betsy Nagelsen.

Australia’s men fare worse at the tournament. Mark Edmonson was the last local hero to lift the trophy in 1976.

Lleyton Hewitt reached the final in 2005. But after sweeping through the opening set 6-1 against Marat Safin, Hewitt, despite fervent partisan support, was unable to maintain his ascendance. Safin turned the tide and powered home in four sets.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning