16 January 2017 | AAP

Multi-talented Ash Barty has claimed her most important victory since switching her focus from cricket back to tennis, downing German baseliner Annika Beck in the opening round of the Australian Open.

The 20-year-old Barty overcame slow starts in both sets to down Beck 6-4 7-5 on Monday, setting up a second-round encounter with American Shelby Rogers, the surprise conqueror of No.4 seed Simona Halep.

At the age of 18, Barty stepped away from the grind of the professional tennis circuit in mid-2014 to try her luck with the Brisbane Heat in the inaugural edition of the WBBL.

She returned to her first sporting love early last year and was rewarded on Monday with a maiden singles match victory at the Australian Open and her first at any major since the 2013 US Open.

“I think I’m the same person, just a slightly different version, a more mature version,” said Barty.

“You guys can decide that one, see how different I am, how I look and feel and whatnot.

“It’s the difference between being 17 and being 20. Obviously I’ve developed a lot in the last few years, I’ve matured a lot. I’m not a little kid anymore.”

Barty was the aggressor throughout her clash with Beck, dominating the winners count 33-13, although she said that added power had little to do with her time as a cricketer.

“The willow is a bit different than graphite,” she said.

“There’s not really anything that coincides over with a cover drive and a forehand. They’re both different.

“Cricket is obviously semi-professional for women, so it’s different to a full schedule with tennis.

“But it’s certainly working on different things. Tennis is a lot quicker and more reactive, whereas with cricket it depends which skill you’re trying to master.”

Barty trailed Beck 3-0 in the opening set and 4-2 in the second before triumphing in one hour and 41 minutes.