On-fire Ash Barty dispensed her second double bagel in three seasons on Tuesday to start her Australian Open in devastating form.
The Australian who sat out the majority of the COVID-influenced 2020 season, last posted a perfect match in the 2019 Fed Cup final, beating Caroline Garcia of France by the same scoreline.
Barty crushed Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic 6-0, 6-0 in a brief 44 minutes; the top seed claimed first 16 points in 18 minutes; she allowed Kovinic 10 points, with the outclassed outsider committing 28 unforced errors.
“it was amazing,” Barty said of a night match played with fans in the stands at the Rod Laver arena.
“It sounded like there were a lot more people in there than there actually were. A night session at Rod Laver is really, really special.
“Tonight I had the game plan spot-on, which was really pleasing. I was able to roll with the momentum throughout the whole match.”
Holder Sofia Kenin beat No. 133 Australian Maddison Inglis with an efficient 7-5, 6-4 while fifth seed Elina Svitolina defeated Czech Maria Bouzkova 6-3, 7-6(5).
Fourth-seeded American Kenin felt a bit unsettled upon her return to the event she won 13 months ago.
“It’s obviously nice to get the win. I love the court, have great memories. It was a little bit emotional, but I tried to handle them.
“I was quite annoyed the whole match; the first two points I started off well, then wasn’t able to close out the first game.
“But nerves happen. She played really well and I was quite hard on myself today, quite annoyed.
“I was tight and not there 100 per cent mentally.”
Fellow Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza, last year’s losing finalist to Kenin, posted a relaxed 6-4, 6-0 victory over Russian Margarita Gasparyan.
The Spanish winner was 48 hour removed from a finals loss here in a run-up event to Barty.
Muguruza said she treated her Grand Slam start as just another match.
“It felt good out there, I was excited to start the Grand Slam after a few weeks here on-site and in Melbourne.
“The first set was tough, we both played well. In the second, I started a little bit better and took the lead quite early. At the end I think I played better.”
Britain’s Johanna Konta lasted for just 12 games before retiring hurt to hand a 4-6, 2-0 win to Slovene Kaja Juvan.
“I pulled my ab, and that made it difficult for me to serve,” Konta said. “That’s why I had to retire.
“I’m in a bit of shock, so I don’t really know anything yet.”
Aussie veteran Sam Stosur, who won her last match at her home major in 2015, finally came through with a victory, defeating compatriot Destanee Aiava 6-4, 6-4.
“Unfortunately (it’s) the luck of the draw, sometimes playing a fellow Aussie,” the former US Open champion said.
“But I’m really happy to get through, very happy with the way I played. And moving on to the second round for the first time in a while.
“It’s exciting for me.”
US teenager Coco Gauff put out Jil Teichmann 6-3, 6-2, while relieved 11th seed Belinda Bencic got a revenge win for Switzerland as she beat Lauren Davis 6-3, 4-6, 6-1.
“I expected not to play great,” former No. 4 Bencic said. “It’s been extremely frustrating; I know how I can play, but I cannot show it.
“I’ve not been feeling well yet with my tennis-wise. But I still have a heart on court and I try to use it.
“I definitely tried to fight with what I have, which wasn’t much today.”
Briton Heather Watson defeated Kristyna Pliskova 7-6(4), 7-6(3)
Main photo:- Ash Barty celebrates first round win by Tennis Australia/ REG RYAN