• Ashleigh Barty is stepping into the Australian Open ranked as the World No.1 singles player and will be looking to maintain her reign. (AAP)Source: AAP
World No.1 Ash Barty has overcome a slow start to triumph in three sets in her first round Australian Open match against veteran Lesia Tsurenko.
By
Brooke Fryer

21 Jan 2020 - 8:13 AM  UPDATED 21 Jan 2020 - 8:18 AM

Ngaragu woman and tournament top seed Ashleigh Barty will proceed to the second round of the Australian Open after defeating Ukranian Lesia Tsurenko in three sets at Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena overnight.

Barty felt the result was never in doubt as she recovered from a first-set stumble to steam to an Australian Open first round win.

While the packed crowd held their collective breath as Barty dropped the first set against World No.120 Tsurenko, after the match Barty said she was in full control.

The 23-year-old World No.1, who is bidding for her first title at Melbourne Park, was the only Australian to book a victory in a rain-interrupted day one after ruthlessly dominating the remaining two sets to run away with a 5-7 6-1 6-1 victory.

"I think in the first set, it was still in my control," Barty said post-match.

"I think I was pressing a little bit early and I made a few too many errors but I was able to tighten the screws in the second set and run away with it."

Tsurenko put up a strong challenge given she'd hardly played in the past year due to an elbow injury, which saw her ranking slump from a career-high world No.23.

The pair traded multiple breaks through the first set although Barty only showed her frustration once, remonstrating with her box as Tsurenko served to wrap it up.

"I was frustrated that I wasn't hitting the ball in the court when I wanted to," Barty said.

"I think I was aiming for big targets and missing by quite a bit, which I wasn't comfortable with, so being able to kind of rectify that and fix that so quickly at the start of the second set was really important."

Barty's fightback has become a trademark, last year racking up an unrivalled 13 victories from a set down en route to her No.1 status and French Open crown.

"Knowing that I've come back from being a set down in many matches is good, although I'd prefer not to be in that situation," Barty said.

Playing in her first home major as the world's top ranked player, and being the first Indigenous player to enter the tournament as the top seed, Barty said she felt she was handling the extra attention and pressure well.

Her previous best performance at the Open came last year when she made the quarter-finals.

"(Grand) slams always feel like there's a lot of chaos going because there's so many people," she said.

"When you're able to separate that from when you step on the court is when you can do a little bit better, play a little bit better, feel a little bit more comfortable.

"I feel like we've been able to do that better and better with each slam that I've played - I feel like I'm doing it the best way that I know how.

"It's an experience thing. You have to learn how to deal with it, but it's getting better."

- with AAP

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