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'Genius at work': Ash Barty's act of clay court mastery stuns fans

·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
Ash Barty pulled out all the tricks to defeat Yaroslava Shvedova in her opening round match at the Italian Open. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images)
Ash Barty pulled out all the tricks to defeat Yaroslava Shvedova in her opening round match at the Italian Open. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images)

Ash Barty bounced back from a slow start to register a resounding 6-4, 6-1 victory over round of 32 opponent Yaroslava Shvedova at the Italian Open.

The world No.1 looked to be in trouble down 2-4 in the first set, before firing off two aces to save another break and kickstart a comeback.

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Shvedova could barely get a look in from that moment on, with the Kazakhstan outsider wilting under the pressure from an unrelenting Barty.

Barty's absolute control over the affair was demonstrated during a second set rally while up 4-1.

Forced to move to the net to counter a drop shot, Barty chased Shvedova's subsequent lob and answered with a lob of her own over the world No.665, who had come up to the net anticipating an easy volley.

The return lob just dropped in, leaving Barty almost incredulous at the unconventional winner.

"Well, both players can smile, that's not exactly a textbook point was it, but it was quite dramatic," the commentator said.

"Such a smart shot though," the co-host replied.

The victory continued Barty's hot streak, having won 17 of her last 18 matches on clay, with 16 of those victories coming consecutively.

Her impressive form as made her a favourite for the upcoming French Open, which she won in 2019 - however the 23-year-old has refused to buy into the hype thus far.

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"It hasn't really surprised me," Barty said on Tuesday night before the Italian Open began.

"Probably what's been most pleasing is the consistent level from the start of the tournament right to the end.

"There haven't been too many really big drops, which has been a massive thing.

"I'd like to think after a couple of years' experience playing on it, more matches, playing in different clay, different conditions, I'd love to say I've learned more and been able to kind of hone my craft a bit more on clay."

Tomljanovic cruises to Italian Open win

Fellow Australian hopeful Alja Tomljanovic also enjoyed a winning start to her Italian Open bid earlier this week.

The world No.80 closed out a 6-4 6-2 victory over Marketa Vondrousova to join fellow Australian and top-ranked Ash Barty in the round of 32 of the WTA 1000 premier event.

Tomljanovic rallied from a set down in each of her two qualifying matches but cruised past world No.21 Vondrousova.

After breaking serve in the third game of the match, Tomljanovic was never headed as she maintained her advantage in the 95-minute encounter.

Tomljanovic staved off four break points in the opening set before playing faultless tennis in the second to break serve twice more and set up a meeting with 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko - who ousted 16th-seeded Johanna Konta 6-3 6-1.

Ajla Tomjanovic overcame world No.20 Marketa Vondrousova to progress through her first round match at the Italian Open. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Ajla Tomjanovic overcame world No.20 Marketa Vondrousova to progress through her first round match at the Italian Open. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Nadia Podoroska will play Serena Williams in the American superstar's 1000th career match after the Argentine accounted for Laura Siegemund 2-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-1.

Angelique Kerber defeated French qualifier Alize Cornet 6-2 7-5 to advance to a showdown with fellow grand slam champion Simona Halep, the third seed.

Spanish 12th seed Garbine Muguruza, a semi-finalist in Rome last year, eased past lucky loser Patricia Maria Tig 6-1 6-2 while Madison Keys won the All-American battle against Sloane Stephens 4-6 6-2 7-5.

France's Kristina Mladenovic upset 10th-seeded Belinda Bencic 6-3 6-4 while Belgian 14th seed Elise Mertens fell 4-6 6-2 6-3 to Russia's Veronika Kudermetova.

With AAP

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