With the hopes and expectations of an entire continent on her shoulders, Ash Barty scared the dickens out of everyone when she dropped the first set of her opening match to world No. 120 Lesia Tsurenko by the score of 5 – 7.

If another groundstroke, serve or volley is never struck in the 2020 Australian Open, it will be a memorable tournament, one the organisers might be willing to forget.

After dealing with weeks of barbs from every direction over how the 2020 Australian Open would adjust to hazardous bushfire smoke, something for which no answers supplied satisfaction, many of the matches from the first day were postponed due to rain.

How’s that for irony?

Makes one wonder.

Could not all tennis tournaments be played indoors?

Rod Laver Arena has a retractable roof. Tennis courts are tiny by comparison to footy or cricket grounds. Docklands Stadium, if we can be excused for not calling it Marvel Stadium, has a roof.

After the first set shock, Barty had a moment before the start of the second set to gather her wits and realise that losing to a player ranked 119 rungs below her was not an option.

“It was really nice to sort it out in the second set. I sharpened up and did what I had to do.” Barty said after the match.

Sort she did. She won the next two sets 6 -1, to supply the result of 5 – 7, 6 – 1, 6 – 1.

Barty needed only 26 minutes to win the second set. She broke Tsurenko in the first game of the third set and the rest was simply a case of a clinical disposal of a weaker opponent.

Barty now awaits the winner of a day one postponement of a match between Polona Hercog and Rebecca Peterson.

Hercog carries the No. 48 ranking with the WTA. She is big and powerful, but since becoming a professional in 2006, she has been unable to translate her physical talent to more than three career singles titles.

Peterson had her best season in 2019, earning nearly three quarters of a million dollars. She is currently ranked WTA No. 44.

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