Australia’s Ash Barty, despite an injury scare, has cruised into the fourth round at the Australian Open, it is Barty’s best performance in her home grand slam.
Barty faced good friend Maria Sakkari from Greece. Sakkari is the world no. 43 and presented a tough challenge for Barty in the first set. After seeking treatment at the end of the first set Barty took control of the match and sprinted through the second set to secure a 7-5, 6-1 victory.
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Photo: MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 18: Ashleigh Barty of Australia plays a forehand in her third round match against Maria Sakkari of Greece during day five of the 2019 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 18, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
In the opening set, Barty was looking a bit nervous and not going for her shots and she was under the pump in the very first game, a game that lasted for four minutes and included two break points against the Australian. Barty held on as she hit an Ace and back-to-back forehand winners.
Sakkari started her first service game in the worst possible way, a double-fault and then two errors for a 0-40 scoreline, she would recover to hold serve after several errors from the Barty racquet.
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Photo: MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 18: Maria Sakkari of Greece plays a backhand in her third round match against Ashleigh Barty of Australia during day five of the 2019 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 18, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Barty held then broke Sakkari for a 3-1 lead only to give the break straight back. Both players would hold serve easily until the tenth game when Sakkari was down a break point at 30-40. A Barty unforced error took the game to deuce before Sakkari levelled the score at 5-5.
In the twelfth game of the first set Barty suddenly found herself with a set point. That came after a string of errors flowed from the Greek players’ racquet, some were forced, some unforced. A Sakkari backhand error gave Barty the first set.
“It’s an amazing sound in here when the roof is closed,” Barty said. “It’s absolutely phenomenal, to hear all the Aussies out here is just unbelievable.
“I think the lively conditions suit both of us so it took time to get used to how dead and slow it was in here.
“Maria’s a great friend of mine… so I’m extremely happy to get through in straight sets.”
After seeking treatment for a hip flexor Barty seemed more relaxed as she faced her Greek opponent in the second set. Two easy service holds for Barty got things moving in the right direction. The second service game which was held to love started a run of five games for Barty as she broke twice to seal the match.
Sakkari never pushed Barty hard enough in the second set to test Barty’s injury. The top-ranked Australian now awaits the winner of the match between Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki, Sharapova a winner in 2008 and Wozniacki is the defending champion.