PARIS, France -- No.8 seed Ashleigh Barty of Australia claimed a spot in the fourth round of Roland Garros for the first time in her career by easing past former semifinalist Andrea Petkovic of Germany, 6-3, 6-1 on Saturday.
In the first meeting between the two players, Barty, who won the Miami Open earlier this season for the biggest title of her career and is the WTA’s most recent Top 10 debutante, slid past former World No.9 Petkovic in exactly 60 minutes to add another milestone to her breakthrough season.
"It took a little while to get used to the conditions, a little bit with the light, the spin of the court," Barty said, in her post-match press conference. "Obviously, the weather here can change how the courts played dramatically. So I think it took some time to adjust. But once I got my feet used to the court, it was much better today."
Barty won nearly 80 percent of points on her fantastic first serve, and broke Petkovic four times out of six break points. The Australian was just as stingy on return, staving off the single break point Petkovic held in the match. Barty had 20 winners to 11 unforced errors in the tilt, while Petkovic's nine winners were negated by her 24 unforced errors.
"When I've been able to execute my game, I've been able to win some matches in business-like fashion, but they're certainly not easy matches, that's for sure," Barty stated. "I feel like I'm playing well and being able to execute to make the score lines look a little easier than the match actually is."
In the round of 16, Barty will face Sofia Kenin, the surprising winner of an all-American affair which was occurring at the same time as Barty's victory. World No.35 Kenin upset three-time champion Serena Williams, 6-2, 7-5, to book her first-ever fourth-round appearance at a Grand Slam event.
"Sonya [Kenin] is an incredible competitor," Barty said. "She really is. I got a little bit of a taste of that at Fed Cup earlier this year. And she certainly respects every opponent but doesn't play their reputation. She plays them just on the other side of the net, and that's one of her best attributes.
"So I think it's going to be an extremely tough match come Monday. And regardless who's on that other side of the net, as I've been saying over the past few months, it's about me trying to prepare and doing the best I can and trying to execute as best I can on the day."
Petkovic hung with Barty for the majority of the first set, blasting a backhand crosscourt winner to hold for 2-2, displaying the vintage groundstroke form which took her to the final four in Paris in 2014. But Barty was impenetrable on serve and had no trouble keeping her nose in front while they exchanged service holds.
Finally, Barty cracked the set open at 4-3, when powerful returning brought the Aussie to triple break point. Petkovic used sound volleying skills to assist her in erasing two of those chances, but on the third, the German double faulted, handing Barty the crucial break. Barty then came back from 0-30 down to win four straight points and serve out the set.
Barty took that momentum from the opening frame and ran with it, dominating proceedings in the second set. The Australian broke Petkovic early, then earned a second break to lead 4-1 after Petkovic once more inauspiciously double faulted on break point.
Petkovic was broken for a third time, as she fired a wide forehand miscue match point down, and Barty sailed into a fourth-round date with Kenin on Monday. The Australian has to enjoy the looks of her path, as she is the highest-seeded remaining player in the top quarter of the draw, formerly headed by World No.1 Naomi Osaka, who was upset on Saturday.