Barty returns with victory
Ash Barty produced a clinical display to win her first tour-level singles match on home soil since 2014. Angelique Kerber is next.
Ash Barty is relishing a “perfect” chance to measure herself against world No.1 Angelique Kerber after making light work of her first-round Brisbane International opponent on Monday.
Barty opened her 2017 campaign by defeating Serbian qualifier Aleksandra Krunic 6-2 6-2 in just 66 minutes at Pat Rafter Arena.
It means the 20-year-old wildcard recipient will now face Kerber in what shapes as the ultimate test of Barty’s professional tennis comeback.
“It’s just a perfect way to start the summer,” Barty said.
“What an opportunity it is to test yourself against the very best.
“I have never played Angie before. It’s just exciting for me to get an opportunity for me to play against the No.1.
“Last Australian Open, I was fortunate to play Serena. It’s exciting now to get a crack at Angie.”
Kerber lost last year’s final in Brisbane, but went on to win the Australian Open, US Open and collected an Olympic silver medal as the German improved her world ranking by nine places.
Barty took a break from tennis in 2014, saying she fell out of love with the sport, and played cricket in the Women’s Big Bash League in 2015-16 for the Brisbane Heat.
She made a return to tennis last year but struggled with an arm injury, but is already the fifth-ranked Australian in the world, and had no issues in dispensing with Krunic, the world No.141.
“I have my best memories on this court, one of my favourite courts in the world,” Barty said.
“It was nice to just go out there and blow out a few cobwebs, really.
“(There’s) nothing quite like stepping out onto your home court and playing a first night session of a premier event, the first of the year.”
The centre-court clash was delayed by 35 minutes because of a heavy storm in Brisbane, which forced the other matches at the Queensland Tennis Centre to be suspended.
One of those featured 16-year-old qualifier Destanee Aiava, who looks set to become the second Australian to progress to the next round of the women’s draw.
Aiava was ahead 2-6 6-3 3-0 (40-15) against American Bethanie Mattek-Sands before rain stopped play.