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Home charge Ashleigh Barty continues to build momentum with a commanding 6-2 6-3 victory over Yafan Wang to book a third consecutive third round at the Australian Open.

“It’s nice to just get into the tournament, to be honest. I felt like today was pretty clean, except for a couple of games where I got passive. It’s been a hell of a start to the season, it’s kind of flowed on from last year, we had a really good finish, it’s certainly nice to be playing here in Australia and playing well,” said Barty, having reached the Sydney International final last week.

“I can come out here and play with freedom, play my game. When I’m playing well I’m really enjoying myself out on court. That is all I can ask of myself every match.”

It was an emphatic start for Barty out on Rod Laver Arena, capping an opening hold with a booming ace.

The 15th seed was dictating off the groundstroke wings, with a brace of inside-in forehand winners brushing the tramlines to assert her dominance.

Barty’s variety of crafted and controlled play was drawing the errors from the world No.65 and the top-ranked Australian was able to chalk up an early 3-1 advantage.

The home hope was transferring to the net with consummate ease and two sublime volleys helped extend the lead.

“That’s very kind of him. I enjoy playing. I really have fun with the game style I do play. I try to be creative and bring variety to the court,” reflected the Aussie ace. “But at times, as well, it’s important to lock down and do the basics very well.

“I’m very fortunate to have had a coach in Jim Joyce who taught me all the shots from when I was quite young. Even now we continue to try and develop and to become the most complete player that I can be.”

Australian fans
Australian fans
That impressive Tennis IQ quickly closed out the opening set, but Wang, who opened her 2019 campaign with a semifinal run in Shenzhen, snatched away the initiative.

The Chinese capitalised upon a couple of short balls from Barty to pin the Australian back and collect a first break.

However, Barty regained her fluidity and an astonishing deflected backhand return winner down the live provided the catalyst to restore parity for 3-3.

The full skillset of Barty was on display when the 22-year-old struck a dropshot then curling lob to bring up break point. Eventually on the third chance a mesmerising 32-shot rally took Barty to 5-3 en route to a closing out a clinical victory.

“I feel great. Obviously a straight-sets match is obviously more straightforward than a three-setter. Any time you can take a win, you gain confidence from that,” explained Barty. “But certainly my body is feeling great. Very nice to come out with two really clean matches. And now we get to look forward to doubles and a bit more singles, as well.”

The leading Aussie will face gregarious Greek Maria Sakkari in the third round, after the world No.43 defeated Barty’s compatriot Astra Sharma 6-1 6-4 on Court 3.

“Maria I’m great friends with and have a really great relationship,” said the 15th seed, who lost to Sakkari 6-4 6-2 at Indian Wells last season. “We have played a couple times now. She’s one of the best movers and competitors out there, will be very tough.”

Source: Alex Sharp

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