PARIS, France - No.8 seed Ashleigh Barty made a winning start to her Roland Garros campaign, needing just 60 minutes to move past Jessica Pegula and reach the second round.
The Aussie fired 17 winners and hit three aces on her way to a solid 6-3, 6-3 victory.
“A little bit scratchy, but solid enough when I needed it,” Barty told press afterward. “And I think overall, for not knowing Jess overly well, was able to figure it out when I needed to.
"There were moments in the match when it was tighter, but I was able to be really solid again and do the basics well.”
Never the biggest fan of clay, Barty has been posting some strong results on the surface recently - culminating in her first clay Premier-level quarterfinal last month in Madrid.
She’s never been past the second round here before, but her seamless victory against Pegula sends a strong message to the field as she awaits the winner between Danielle Collins and Tatjana Maria.
To her credit, Pegula - who was contesting just her second-career match against a Top 10 player - always kept herself in the match, even when she quickly found herself down 4-0 in the opening set. Barty got off to a roaring start, covering the court with ease and breaking twice to create a daunting lead.
But Pegula got both of the breaks back, fighting her way back to 4-3. Barty wasn’t fazed, however, and she continued to apply the pressure on Pegula, eventually earning the decisive break to lead 5-3 and take the opening set.
The same pattern emerged in the second set as Barty got ahead to an early break at 2-0, and Pegula fought her way back into it to make it 3-2. She had a huge opportunity to make it 4-2, holding three break chances on Barty’s serve, but the Aussie forced the errors off of Pegula’s racquet and escaped with a hold of serve.
That moment of danger seemed to galvanize Barty, and she found another level as the set wound to a close. She reeled off the next three games in a row, breaking twice, and sealed the match to secure her first victory of the fortnight, 6-3, 6-3.
“I think I just did enough to give myself an opportunity to play another match,” Barty said. “I think I now have a couple of days between matches.
“We'll just go back and refine a few things on the practice court, but overall I feel like I've been playing a really good level of tennis over the last month. So it's just about going out there and trying to improve on that and continuing to do that every match.”