By Nick Mulvenney
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – World number one Ash Barty barely broke sweat as she swept into the second round of the Australian Open with a 6-0 6-0 thrashing of error-prone Danka Kovinic on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday.
The Australian won the first 16 points and lost only 10 of 60 over the 44-minute match as the hapless Kovinic sprayed 28 unforced errors – almost one every other point — to succumb to the dreaded “double bagel” scoreline.
“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,” Barty said.
“I think that was probably the most pleasing thing overall, right from the start I set the tone and was able to run away with it.”
Such one-sided contests will do nothing for ticket sales at a tournament struggling to get fans through the gates, but Barty will not care a jot as she seeks to become the first homegrown singles champion at the Grand Slam since 1978.
The 24-year-old played her first tournament in almost a year last week and walked away with the title but she knows there will much be tougher tests ahead if she is to land a second Grand Slam crown at the end of next week.
She was also the top seed at Melbourne Park last year after winning her first Grand Slam title at the 2019 French Open but fell to eventual champion Sofia Kenin in the semi-finals.
While she has had a long layoff, not having to quarantine for two weeks before the tournament like her rivals should be an advantage and her draw was kind.
Barty believes, however, that there are more threats than ever in the women’s game.
“I think more than anything is you’re seeing that the women’s game is getting so strong, the depth is incredible. You certainly can’t underestimate anyone,” Barty said.
“Every single opponent deserves to be here and has the right to press you as much as possible.”Next up for Barty is a second-round match against Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo or local wildcard Daria Gavrilova.
“It will be a challenge if she gets through,” she said of compatriot Gavrilova.
“I always enjoy testing myself against other Aussies. If she does get through, it will be a ripper.”
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford and Pritha Sarkar)