[close]

Barty to face Halep in Sydney showdown

Ashleigh Barty has booked a second-round date with world No.1 Simona Halep with a commanding win over former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in Sydney.

Barty to face Halep in Sydney showdown

Ashleigh Barty has booked a second-round date with world No.1 Simona Halep with a commanding win over former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in Sydney.

ASHLEIGH BARTY of Australia plays a backhand against Camila Giorgi of Italy of the 2018 Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Australia.
ASHLEIGH BARTY of Australia plays a backhand against Camila Giorgi of Italy of the 2018 Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Australia. Picture:Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Win or lose against world No.1 Simona Halep on Wednesday, Ashleigh Barty feels primed to challenge for Australian Open glory after continuing her blazing start to the season in Sydney.

Barty set up her blockbuster with Halep with a comprehensive 6-3 6-3 first-round victory over 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko on Tuesday.


Confirming her status as a Melbourne Park dark horse, Barty swatted aside the Latvian 6-3 6-3 in one hour and 15 minutes, crunching five aces and dropping just four points after landing her first serve in a dominant display.

The straight-sets victory was Barty's third win from four outings this summer, her lone defeat so far coming at the hands of world No.2 and reigning Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber at last week's Hopman Cup in Perth.

Little wonder the 22-year-old declared her Open preparation perfect, regardless of Wednesday's outcome.

"I feel like I have played enough matches now. I'm ready, feel pretty good on the court. There's certainly no better challenge than coming up against Simona right before a slam," Barty said.

"It's kind of the perfect opportunity for me to go out there and play freely and try a few different things and get ready as best that I can to try and win that match.

"Win or lose today, I had no stress and no worries that I'd be good to go for Melbourne."

Not only good to go, but a serious championship contender.

"I'm in the draw, so why not?," Barty said when asked if she believed she could break Australia's 43-year women's title drought in Melbourne.

"I'd love to go deep in a major and hopefully I can do it here in Australia."

The Australian No.1 will be seeded 15th in Melbourne next week, her highest position in a grand slam draw, and is eager to gauge her form and improvement since reaching the third round last year against 2018 runner-up Halep.

"It's just an opportunity for me to go out and test myself against the best in the world," said Barty, who lost both her previous encounters with the Romanian last August.

"They were actually back-to-back weeks in Montreal and Cincinnati.

"I never played her before that, and obviously they were tough matches.

"I was in both of those matches and let my opportunities slip, so I know that if I do the right things, I will certainly get my opportunities and then it comes down to execution and trying to do the right things.

"She's the ultimate competitor. She's the best in the world, and there's no one better to come up against to test your game."

AAP


AAP




Latest Stories