Barty ousts Gavrilova from Australian Open

Ash Barty has cast friendship aside to advance to the Australian Open third round with a hard-earned win over Fed Cup teammate Daria Gavrilova.

Barty backed up her 6-0 6-0 first-round win over Danka Kovinic with a less convincing 6-1 7-6 (9-7) victory on Thursday that thrust Australia’s world No.1 into the last 32 for a fifth straight year.

Barty looked to be cruising towards an easy win until losing her way from 5-2 up in the second set.

The top seed dropped serve twice while trying to close out the match, then had to save two set points in the tiebreaker before eventually prevailing after one hour and 32 minutes.

She coughed up six double-faults and committed 34 unforced errors.

Despite winning the Yarra Valley Classic last week in her first tournament back after almost a year out of tennis, Barty said she was still trying to find her A game.

“Obviously having 12 months off it’s a little bit rusty but I’m certainly happy with how I’ve been able to fight though the last couple of weeks,” she said.

In a rare sight in the cut-throat world of professional tennis, Barty and Gavrilova spent about an hour warming up together side by side on Rod Laver Arena on Thursday morning.

But after posing happily for a pre-match photo together at the net, Barty swiftly put her game face on.

The top seed dropped her opening service game but immediately struck back, reeling off six consecutive games to pocket the first set in 27 minutes.

The two combatants are separated by 386 spots in the rankings as Gavrilova continues a comeback from her own year-long layoff with a foot injury.

But that didn’t stop Gavrilova from making Barty sweat after rattling off four games in a row to force the second-set breaker.

“When you play another Aussie, you play a compatriot, the rankings go out the window. Experience goes out the window,” Barty said.

“Typically you know each other very well so it was always going to be a tricky match no matter what.”

A semi-finalist last year, Barty will return on Saturday to play Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova or Czech Barbora Krejcikova for a fourth-round berth.


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