Top seed Ashleigh Barty lived up to her Australian Open top billing in style on Rod Laver Arena, kicking off Day Two's night session with a 6-0, 6-0 whitewash of World No.82 Danka Kovinic in just 44 minutes - the shortest match of the first round.
Fresh off winning her ninth career title, and second on home soil, last week at the Yarra Valley Classic, Barty delivered a masterclass of precision and focus in quelling Kovinic for her most dominant Grand Slam win to date. The Australian raced through the first 16 points, raising anticipation for the first Tour-level golden set since Yaroslava Shvedova's whitewash of Sara Errani at Wimbledon 2012 - but although a rare backhand error ended those hopes, Barty's iron grip of the contest never faltered.
In total, the 24-year-old conceded only 10 points - four in an 18-minute first set and six in a 26-minute second set - while striking 10 winners and maintaining a 100% record at net. Kovinic, by contrast, leaked 28 unforced errors and found only three winners; the Montenegrin would reach game point just once. The result was the third Tour-level double bagel victory of Barty's career - she had previously shut out Xu Yifan in Nottingham qualifying in 2016 and Caroline Garcia in the 2019 Billie Jean King Cup final - and the first time Kovinic had ever failed to win a game in the 26-year-old's professional career.
Not that Barty allowed the numbers to cross her mind. "I'm not thinking about the double bagel at all until the end of the match and we have shaken hands," she told the media afterwards. "It's more about continuing to do the things that have worked throughout the whole matches. Really trying to press the momentum. Get those first couple of points in every game, get the first point in each game, and really try and keep that roll going."
To the process-oriented Barty, the emphatic nature of the win simply meant a job well done. "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," she 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."
Putintseva brings intensity in signature comeback
When Yulia Putintseva and Sloane Stephens clash, bring popcorn and settle in: five out of five encounters between the pair have now gone the distance, and each has been won from behind by the player who lost the opening set. No.26 seed Putintseva kept the pattern alive today in her trademark pugnacious fashion, overcoming a break deficit in both the second and third sets to emerge a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 victor.
Though 2013 semifinalist Stephens showed grit in edging a riveting opening set - serving it out, the American survived five break-back points and seven deuces - but it was Putintseva whose intensity levels proved higher. Down a set and 0-2 the Kazakh, who reached her third Grand Slam quarterfinal at the US Open last year, hit peak form to rattle off 20 consecutive points and seven games in a row to turn the match around.
Debutante Danilovic upsets Martic, Konta hit by injury
Back in 2017, Olga Danilovic and Kaja Juvan tasted Grand Slam glory together when they lifted the Wimbledon girls' doubles trophy, defeating Caty McNally and Whitney Osuigwe in the final. Now both 20 years old, the pair of qualifiers notched up another parallel milestone by knocking out seeds on the Grand Slam stage for the first time.
Juvan received some luck when No.13 seed Johanna Konta was forced to retire while leading 6-4, 0-2 due to an abdominal injury the Briton sustained in the first set. Danilovic, however, had to battle hard over the course of two hours and seven minutes to upset No.16 seed Petra Martic 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, coming from 1-3 down in the deciding set to seal a memorable Grand Slam main draw debut.
It's a belated second breakthrough for the Serb, who defeated Kaia Kanepi, Julia Goerges and Anastasia Potapova to become the 2018 Moscow River Cup champion - and just the seventh player to win the title on her WTA main draw debut - at the age of 17. Danilovic cracked the Top 100 in October that year, but a slump meant that she had fallen to World No.277 by the following August. Indeed, today's victory - in which she showcased some remarkable resilience to go with her easy power - is Danilovic's first at WTA main draw level since Tashkent 2018.
Afterwards, a delighted Danilovic credited compatriot and ATP World No.1 Novak Djokovic for some valuable advice in turning her career back around. "We talked about basic things you go through on court, off court," said the World No.183. "The way his mind is, we all know he's the best player in the world, and in difficult moments, he's the best one. Which is the most important thing in our sport - to be the best you can be in difficult moments. That's what I learned from him: when it's the toughest moment, then you have to push yourself."
Mental strength was also the key to her win, said Danilovic. "I believed in my game, I believed in the tough things we did before the match, I believed in my shots. I was in the present moment, just thinking about next point, next return, nothing else."
Remarkably, the result also means that Danilovic preserves her 100% record against Top 20 players in three matches to date, having defeated Anastasija Sevastova in 2018 Billie Jean King Cup zonal play as well as Goerges during her Moscow title run. "I know that I can play against them," she asserted. "I like the challenge, I like to play them and I like to be on court and try to push myself."
Czech-mate wins for Pliskova, Muchova
Five Czech women have progressed into the second round of the Australian Open, with that cohort rounded out by two of the country's seeded players as Tuesday's day session drew into the evening. No.6 seed Karolina Pliskova, a 2019 semifinalist here in Melbourne, rained down six aces en route to a 47-minute 6-0, 6-2 dismissal of Italy's Jasmine Paolini; the former World No.1 has not lost her opening match at a Grand Slam since falling to Shelby Rogers at Roland Garros 2016.
No.25 seed Karolina Muchova came through a rather tougher tussle to capture one of the most intriguing first-round tilts in the draw over 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko. A compelling first set was packed full of deuce games and vocal emotion - at least from the Latvian, who maintained both a running commentary on her own serve and an ongoing argument with the electronic Hawkeye system.
Ostapenko's bravura power, as ever, made for some thrilling highlights - but it was Muchova's variety and ability to switch up her tactics that edged the set for the 2019 Wimbledon quarterfinalist, who pulled away steadily for a 7-5, 6-2 win and remains on track for a projected all-Czech third-round clash against Pliskova.
Before that, though, Pliskova faces one of the standout clashes of the second round against Danielle Collins - her conqueror in two tiebreaks last week in the third round of the Yarra Valley Classic.