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Womens Singles, 1st Round
Ashleigh Barty won in 3 sets
She’s the host nation’s highest seed at the Australian Open, and world No.18 Ashleigh Barty will be hoping to justify that when she takes on rising star Aryna Sabalenka in the first round. Join The Roar for live scores, analysis and point-by-point coverage from around 9pm (AEDT).
After a stellar 2017 which saw her rise from relative obscurity to winning the John Newcombe Medal as the country’s finest player, 21-year-old Barty has already seen plenty of ups and downs in a rollercoaster start to 2018.
A first-round loss at the Brisbane International, her home tournament, to Lesia Tsurenko on New Year’s Day was hardly an ideal way to start, but she quickly roared back to form at the Sydney International just a week later.
A barnstorming run – a regular occurrence for Barty in the last 12 months – saw her take out countrywoman Daria Gavrilova in the semi-final, before being denied a second WTA title by in-form German Angelique Kerber, losing in straight sets.
Despite the loss, Barty is in red-hot form and having reached the third round at Melbourne Park last year, has a history of performing well at her home slam.
At just 19 years of age, Belarusian teenager Aryna Sabalenka is one of the youngest players in the main draw at the Australian Open, but don’t let her age fool you – she’s already had plenty of experience at the top level.
A second-round appearance at Wimbledon might be her only grand slam appearance to date, but the rising star turned heads in November’s Fed Cup Final against the United States.
In a massive boilover, Sabalenka defeated reigning US Open champion Sloane Stephens in three sets to level the best-of-five series 1-all and while losses to Coco Vandeweghe in the singles and Shelby Rogers and Vandeweghe again in the doubles saw the States take the Cup 3-2, she’d already done enough to announce her arrival on the world stage.
This year’s Open marks the first time she hasn’t had to qualify for a Grand Slam and ranked world No.66, you wouldn’t put a boilover past her.
Sabalenka is no easy first-round opponent, but an in-form Barty has few weaknesses, and that should be enough to get her over the line. It won’t be a walkover though.
Barty in straight sets.
It was a fantastic Day 1 for Australia with Daria Gavrilova, Olivia Rogowska, Nick Kyrgios, John Millman and Matt Ebden all progressing to the second round (Ebden upsetting 16th-seeded American John Isner), and Barty will be hoping she can continue to please the Rod Laver Arena fans.
Can our Ash live up to her reputation and progress to the second round? Or will the unknown Belarusian cause an upset?
Tune into The Roar for live coverage of all the action from around 9pm (AEDT) and remember to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.