Melbourne : World No. 1 and top seed, Ashleigh Barty, began her quest for a maiden Australian Open title in emphatic manner, dropping just one game on way to beating Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine in the first round of the year’s first Grand Slam at the Melbourne Park on Monday.Also, in late-evening matches on Monday, Madison Keys upset former champion Sofia Kenin in an all-American contest, while Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia and Jessica Pegula of the US too came through tough three-setters on the opening day.No.1 seed Barty’s quest for a first Australian Open title got off to a perfect start with a 6-0, 6-1 rout of qualifier Lesia Tsurenko in 54 minutes. Two years ago, the Australian had been given a scare by the Ukrainian at the same stage of her home major, eventually pulling through 5-7, 6-1, 6-1.But the rematch was more akin to her 2021 opener, in which she double-bageled Danka Kovinic of Montenegro in 44 minutes.
The Wimbledon champion raced through the first 11 games, facing game points in only one of them. Barty struck 14 winners, including five aces, to 17 unforced errors, and maintained a 58 per cent first serve percentage.Barty was in control of almost every exchange, dragging the world No. 119 Tsurenko around the court in all directions with slices and heavy forehands.Madison Keys slammed 31 winners, including 15 aces, to win her 43rd WTA-level match against a fellow American out of 63 to date. No.26 seed Jelena Ostapenko and No.21 seed Jessica Pegula both delivered fine performances to survive determined opponents in their openers.Ostapenko recovered after losing a first set in which she had held five set points to beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia 6-7(7), 6-3, 6-1 in 2 hours and 15 minutes, while Pegula triumphed 4-6, 7-6(1), 7-5 over Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine in 2 hours and 52 minutes — the longest match of Day 1.