Australian Open: Ash Barty sails into second round in 44 minutes

Australia’s world No 1 Ash Barty opened her 2021 Australian Open campaign with a 6-0, 6-0 rout of Danka Kovinic.

Ashleigh Barty of Australia celebrates after winning a point in her Women's Singles first round match against Danka Kovinic of Montenegro during day two of the 2021 Australian Open.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Top-ranked Ash Barty dominated in her first Grand Slam match in more than a year, dropping just 10 points in a 6-0, 6-0 rout of Danka Kovinic in the first round of the Australian Open.

Barty lost in the semifinals of last year’s Australian Open to eventual champion Sofia Kenin, then skipped the French Open and U.S. Open because she stayed in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic. Before winning last week’s Yarra Valley Classic warm-up tournament, Barty hadn’t played a competitive match since last February.

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Very little went wrong against Kovinic: Barty hit just five unforced errors (compared with 28 for Kovinic) and converted on six of eight breakpoint chances. The match lasted 44 minutes.

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Barty, the 2019 French Open champion, said after the match she missed tennis “every single day” during her long time away from the sport.

"This is what it’s all about, this is incredible. To play in front of you guys is an honour and privilege, and we’re just extremely grateful to be here. I try to come out here and stick to my processes and just enjoy it.

"I missed tennis every single day. The competitor in me missed what this is all about, missed the last hour before you come out on court. The bonus particularly for us players in the next few weeks is we’ve got crowds, we’ve got people to enjoy it with us and that’s really, really special."

Briton Johanna Konta retired from her Australian Open first-round match against Kaja Juvan of Slovenia on Tuesday due to injury while leading 6-4, 0-2.

Konta, seeded 13th at Melbourne Park, left the court for a medical timeout to get treatment on her abdomen when serving at 5-4 in the opening set. She came back to serve out the set but continued to struggle and lost the first two games of the second set before deciding she was unable to continue.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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