Melbourne, Australia, 20 January 2020 | Vivienne Christie

Talent, work ethic and a team focus have all factored in Ash Barty’s rise to world No.1, but as the home favourite claimed a hard-fought first round victory over Lesia Tsurenko at AO2020, it was persistence and problem-solving that mattered the most.  

Fresh from claiming an eighth career title – and a first on home soil – at the Adelaide International just two night ago, the top-seeded Barty recovered from a slow start to overcome world No.120 Tsurenko 5-7 6-1 6-1 in 96 minutes.

“It’s all good! It’s amazing to be back out here,” a relaxed Barty told her appreciative home crowd.

“Obviously it’s a tight turnaround from Adelaide but (it was) really nice to kind of sort it out a little bit more at the start of the second set.”

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It was in many ways a tale of two Bartys at Rod Laver Arena, with 19 unforced errors contributing to the challenging first set.

Tsurenko struck the first blow by breaking the Australian’s serve in the opening game and while Barty recovered to level in the fourth, the pair exchanged breaks again before the persistent Tsurenko eked out the opener with another break of serve in the 12th game.

The contrasting sets that followed, however, highlight the problem-solving ability that has contributed to the Queenslander’s impressive rise.

“(I) sharpened up and did what I needed to do,” said Barty, who recorded only five errors in the second set and six in the decider as she found her rhythm before her home crowd.

With Barty eventually recording 25 winners to nine from Tsurenko, the Australian surrendered just two games to complete her recovery in emphatic style. 

“I think in the first set, it was still in my control,” Barty related in her on-court interview. “I was just rushing a little bit, trying to finish off points too early.

“Once I was able to get my physicality into it, I felt a lot more comfortable and I think I was able to look after my service games a little better, and not get behind in the set which was important.”

Preparing to meet the winner of the rain-delayed first round match between Polona Hercog and Rebecca Peterson, Barty is also excited to compete again before her home crowd.

“(It’s) absolutely incredible,” said the 23-year-old. “This is probably the moment that I’ve been looking forward to the most in the off-season. I couldn’t wait to walk out on court.”