Through two matches at the Australian Open, World No.1 Ashleigh Barty has looked the part. After dropping just one game in her opening round win against former Top 30 player Lesia Tsurenko, the top seed lost just two to reach the third round.
Barty's 54-minute victory against qualifier Tsurenko was bettered on Wednesday by a 52-minute performance against Italy's Lucia Bronzetti, another qualifier, to the tune of a 6-1, 6-1 final score.
52 minutes is all @ashbarty needs to move into the third round, notching a 6-1 6-1 victory over Lucia Bronzetti.— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 19, 2022
The world No.1 meets Camila Giorgi next ➡#AusOpen · #AO2022
🎥: @wwos · @espn · @Eurosport · @wowowtennis pic.twitter.com/2ffKyaYVD9
Stat check: The Rod Laver Arena crowd was treated to a full display of dominance by Barty, who hit 21 winners and eight aces in victory.
She and Bronzetti were equal in unforced errors with 14 apiece, but the Italian couldn't match Barty's power off the ground nor handle her biting slice. The World No.142 qualified successfully for her first Grand Slam draw by coming from a set down to beat Nao Hibino, and did the same in her first victory against Varvara Gracheva in the first round, but she hit just six winners and was broken five times.
Another Italian awaits: It'll be a step up in quality — and striking power — for Barty in the next round when she faces another Italian in Camila Giorgi. The No.30 seed sealed a 6-2, 7-6(2) win over Tereza Martincova to reach the third round in Australia for the third time in her career. She's never reached the fourth round, and will have to reverse the tide of a winless head-to-head against Barty to do so.
Despite her history of success against the Italian, Barty is keenly aware of the threat Giorgi's first-strike, aggressive game style provides.
"Some very different challenges to what I've had the last couple matches," Barty said. "She has the ability to hold baseline, to control the center of the court, be super, super aggressive off her serve and first shot, particularly off her return.
"It's going to be a match where I'm going to have to serve well, bring in variety, make sure I can cover the court, neutralize the best that I can. She has the ability to hit you off the court without realizing it's happening.
"I think it's going to be another match with some fresh challenges. But having played her before, she kind of knows my game, I kind of know hers. It's about going out there and trying to do it as good as I can."
The Aussie has won all three of their prior meetings, including a 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 win in the second round in Melbourne four years ago.
"I remember the matches that I've played against her," Barty said. "Not in great detail. I kind of know how they went. A lot of the time the match isn't on my racquet, to be completely honest.
"I have to be able to neutralize and be aggressive when I can, but also be able to accept the fact that not always am I going to have it on my terms. That's an important part of our matchup. I just get on with it and try to bring it back to my tennis as regularly as I can."
Anisimova, Keys run winning streaks to seven
In-form Americans Amanda Anisimova and Madison Keys each kept up their winning streaks Wednesday, extending their unbeaten runs to seven matches with identical score lines.
Rallying from a set and a break down to win her first round against a qualifier, there was no such adversity for Anisimova against No.22 seed Belinda Bencic. Early break deficits were quickly erased, and the teenager sealed a comprehensive 6-2, 7-5 win over the reigning Olympic gold medalist.
Tale of the tape: Broken in the first game of the match, Anisimova quickly restored order in an opening set that lasted just over a half hour and won the last four games. A 3-2 lead for Bencic also evaporated in the second set, and the Swiss struggled with an apparent injury down the stretch as she needed an on-court medical timeout.
Anisimova's crisp hitting also proved problematic for Bencic. She tallied 28 winners and seven aces, nearly tripling Bencic's total of winners.
Earlier in the day, Keys was victorious over Jaqueline Cristian of Romania. Frank about her shift in mentality and perspective after a disappointing 2021 season, Keys used that mindset to book a seventh third-round appearance in Melbourne.
After cruising early to a 6-2, 2-0 lead, she was pegged back even and then some by a battling Cristian. Two points away from a final set serving in the 10th game, Keys surged to 10 of the last 11 points in her own 6-2, 7-5 win.
Words from the winner: "I'm feeling pretty good. I really had to fight in that second set to close it out in two," Keys said. "I'm really just appreciating every moment on court and trying to have a lot of fun, but I also just really love competing even in those tough moments.
"Not a lot of people in the world get to be on a stage at 5-5 in the second to make the third round of the Australian Open, so I'm really just enjoying those moments."
Pegula moves on; Ostapenko edges Riske
Joining Anisimova and Keys in Round 3 will be their compatriot and No.21 seed Jessica Pegula, who beat Bernarda Pera in an all-American affair, 6-4, 6-4. Pegula, who played Monday's longest match in beating Anhelina Kalinina from a set down in the first round, also came from a deficit against her left-handed compatriot. Pera led 4-1 in the first set but lost the next nine games.
However, No.26 seed Jelena Ostapenko denied another American victory with a comeback against Alison Riske. Coming from a set down for the second straight round, the former French Open champion hammered 36 winners in a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory, advancing to the third round Down Under for the third time in her career.
Krejcikova charges past Wang Xiyu
No.4 seed Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic eased into the third round in Melbourne for the first time in her career with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Chinese wildcard Wang Xiyu.
Reigning Roland Garros champion Krejcikova, who fell in the second round of the last two Australian Opens, needed 1 hour and 17 minutes to beat the 20-year-old left-hander who is currently ranked World No.139.
"I think it was a really tricky match, because she's really an up-and-coming player, she serves really well and plays fast," Krejcikova said. "I'm really happy with the way how I handled the match and how well I played. I'm just trying to improve it every single match."
At the tail end of a lengthy day session which stretched into evening, Krejcikova converted seven of her 12 break points to take her second win. Krejcikova dropped only two games in her opening-round match against former Top 10 player Andrea Petkovic.
Wang had beaten Krejcikova in their lone previous meeting at an ITF Challenger event in Australia in 2018, when both were ranked outside the Top 100 and Wang was only 16 years old. But Krejcikova, now firmly a Top 10 player, executed a much tidier score line this time, with five more winners and 10 fewer unforced errors than Wang.
"I remember that match very clearly," Krejcikova said. "I tried to look at her first match [here], also what she was playing like last week. Everything that was happening, like I knew it's gonna come. So I think I handled the situation really well."
Krejcikova used heavy forehands and superb point construction to move Wang around the court and sweep through the first set. The Czech served for the match at 5-2 in the second set before Wang broke back to extend the affair. However, four straight errors off of Wang's forehand gave Krejcikova a love break in the next game to close out the clash.