Normal service resumed with Ashleigh Barty sweeping into the Australian Open third round in straight sets. A three-set comeback winner in the opening round, top-seeded Barty needed barely an hour to see off big-hitting world No 48 Polona Hercog 6-1 6-4 on Wednesday.
Unlike Monday night when she dropped the first set against Lesia Tsurenko, a switched-on Barty dominated the opener in windy conditions on Rod Laver Arena, twice breaking Hercog’s serve.
The Slovenian put up more of a fight in the second, forcing Barty to hold from double-break-point down in the eighth game. The world No 1 then gained a decisive third service break the very next game before closing out the contest, again from 15-40, in 66 minutes with four straight clutch first serves, reports Australian Associated Press.
“It’s been another clean match today and very happy to get out of that one,” Barty said after finishing with five aces, 16 winners, 16 unforced errors and saving all six break points she faced.
“It was different, end to end. The wind played a factor, particularly with the new balls. It was about making as many balls as I could and, once I got my opportunity, I could take it.”
Barty next plays either Kazakh Elena Rybakina, a winner of this month’s Hobart International, or Belgian qualifier Greet Minnen, on Friday for a place in the last 16. Should she win, Barty will run into either her Open doubles partner Julia Goerges or American world No 19 Alison Riske in the fourth round.
Goerges upset 13th seed Petra Martic 4-6 6-3 7-5 earlier on Wednesday, while Riske – who ended Barty’s 15-match European winning streak last year at Wimbledon – hammered Zhu Lin 6-3 6-1.
Also defending champion Naomi Osaka put an angry outburst behind her to reach the Australian Open last 32.
Japanese third seed Osaka beat Saisai Zheng 6-2 6-4 to set up a potential third-round meeting with teenager Coco Gauff, who plays Sorana Cirstea later.
Osaka, 22, threw her racquet on the floor and kicked it after China’s Zheng broke her serve in the second set.
Caroline Wozniacki recovered from going 5-1 down in the opening set to win 7-5 7-5 and put off her impending retirement for at least another match.
The 2018 champion won six games in a row to clinch the opening set and also went 3-0 down in the second before mounting a comeback against Ukrainian 23rd seed Dayana Yastremska.
The Dane, 29, will face Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who beat British number one Johanna Konta in her opening match, in the third round.
Meanwhile, Czech seventh seed Petra Kvitova, who was beaten by Osaka in last year’s final, progressed with a 7-5 7-5 victory over Spain’s Paula Badosa.
American 14th seed Sofia Kenin saw off compatriot and wildcard Ann Li 6-1 6-3, while Germany’s Julia Goerges knocked out Croatia’s 13th seed Petra Martic in a 4-6 6-3 7-5 victory.
In her final season before retirement, Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro won her first-round match against Belarusian 11th seed Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (8-6) to set up a meeting with Polish 18-year-old Iga Swiatek.