Australian Open: Ashleigh Barty gives masterclass to Lesia Tsurenko; Coco Gauff exits

World no. 1 Ashleigh Barty got her 2022 Australian Open campaign underway on a dominant note, beating Ukrainian qualifier, Lesia Tsurenko, 6-0, 6-1 in 54 minutes.  

The opening set was determined by the home favourite in just 24 minutes as she showcased the full extent of her shot-making repertoire to Tsurenko. While Tsurenko tried to play catch-up with Barty throughout the set, she just wasn’t able to. This carnage that Barty oversaw on the Rod Laver Arena spilled onto the second set as Tsurenko’s shots missed the court while Barty kept directing the play.

Towards the business end of the set, Barty’s dominance suffered a slight misstep. Serving to stay in the match in the sixth game of the second set, Tsurenko faced two match points but went on to save both as Barty cranked errors while trying to convert them. Tsurenko eventually went on to hold her serve, putting an end to Barty’s winning run of 11 consecutive games. Barty did face three more match points on her serve in the seventh game and while she was thwarted from converting the third and fourth, an error off Tsurenko’s racquet gave the Australian the win on her fifth match point.

For a place in the round-of-32, Barty will take on another qualifier, Italy’s Lucia Bronzetti. Bronzetti won against Varvara Gracheva 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. 

Australian Open: Sofia Kenin, Coco Gauff among early exiters 

The biggest upset of the first day of the 2022 Australian Open came at the hands of Chinese qualifier, Qiang Wang. Wang ousted 18th seed Coco Gauff in straight sets 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and 13 minutes.

What started out as an evenly-matched contest between the two players became quite a one-sided affair in Wang’s favour as her stroke-play drew out the errors from Gauff. The American’s composure cracked as the second set began and she quickly fell behind by a double break. With her back to the wall while down 0-5 in the second set, Gauff began recalibrating her game and was able to get one of the breaks back with Wang serving for the match in the sixth game. In the following game, Gauff held nerves at bay as she saved three match points to hold on for 2-5.

Serving for the match for the second time in the eighth game, Wang struggled to gain control over the momentum in the first couple of points. However, she soon settled into the rhythm that had allowed her to direct the pace of the match and on her fourth match point, clinched victory to move into the round-of-64.

Just four winners separated Gauff and Wang – the former had 15 winners to the latter’s 11. However, while Wang had just 15 unforced errors, Gauff had more than twice as many (38).

In the second round, Wang – who reached the fourth round at Melbourne Park in 2019 – will play Alison Van Uytvanck. The Belgian won against Spanish qualifier, Cristina Bucsa, 6-3, 6-4.

Meanwhile, in the first-round derby featuring Americans, the 11th-seeded Sofia Kenin and Madison Keys, the latter got the better of her higher-ranked compatriot. Keys won 7-6(2), 7-5 in an hour and 31 minutes.

Neither player ceded her serve in the opening set but the latter part of the second set had a couple of twists and turns as Keys secured a decisive break in the ninth game with the chance to serve for the match. As it turned out, she was broken without even facing one match point. But Kenin lost her serve yet again in the 11th game and while serving for the match the second time around, Keys ensured that she collected the win, albeit on her third match point.

Keys will play either Greet Minnen or Jaqueline Cristian next in the second round of the 2022 Australian Open.