World No.1 Ashleigh Barty will hope to win a second slam this fortnight, this time in front of a vocal home crowd in Melbourne. She will play the big hitting Lesia Tsurenko in her opener at the Australian Open and has a fairly favourable draw until at least the quarters where she could potentially play last year’s finalist Petra Kvitova.
There won’t be expecting a surprise win from Tsurenko, who spent a prolonged amount of time out last year – seeing her fall outside the top 100. Her loss to Elise Mertens in Shenzhen was the first match she played since Washington last year, back in July.
“I’m happy, I’m healthy. I’m coming into the first Grand Slam of the year with a smile on my face. That’s all I can ask of myself. Really special to be able to have won a title last week. My first on Australian soil.” Barty said after winning the title in Adelaide, beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Marketa Vondrousova, Danielle Collins and Dayana Yastremska. It was a strong week for her, seeing off a set of players that can be very dangerous when their best attacking tennis is on show.
It has to be considered a terrible matchup for Tsurenko even if she were fully fit and fresh. Barty will get the Ukranian moving all over the court and this could be a short one if Tsurenko isn’t firing from the start. The World No.1 is not feeling stressed despite an expectant public hoping she can win the big one. “There’s no extra pressure. I don’t read the papers. I don’t look into any more than I need to. I’m here with my team trying to do the best that we can.” she said. That might change as big matches near in the second week of the tournament.
Prediction – Ashleigh Barty in straight sets