HARD-FOUGHT: Ipswich's Ashleigh Barty had to overcome the booming ground strokes and vocal chords of Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka to progress to the second round of the Australian Open.
HARD-FOUGHT: Ipswich's Ashleigh Barty had to overcome the booming ground strokes and vocal chords of Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka to progress to the second round of the Australian Open. JOE CASTRO

Ipswich's Barty moves past the noise at Australian Open

ASH Barty moved into the second round of the Australian Open on Tuesday night, but it was her opponent who made the most noise in media circles. Literally.

Belarusian teenager Aryna Sabalenka claimed the first set 7-6, before Ipswich's Barty fought back to take the next two 6-4, 6-4.

That Barty was the sole Aussie to win on Tuesday should have been the biggest story to come out of the day; instead it was her opponent's vocal acrobatics on the other side of the net which caused the most stir.

Sabalenka's 'screeching' drew the ire of fans watching on in the stands, so much so the chair umpire was forced to intervene after they started to mock the Belarusian with grunting of their own.

Even the commentators saw the irony in the action, such was the comedy in Sabalenka's extended grunting with every strike of the ball.

Lost in all of this however, was the maturity which Barty showed in overcoming such an odd circumstance.

Having dropped the first set, the 21-year-old rallied in spite of the outside noise.

At her post-match press conference, Barty was asked if Sabalenka's grunting had frustrated her at all.

"A lot of players grunt, a lot of players don't grunt it's just the way they are," Barty said.

"For me it wasn't a distraction, it's just part and parcel - I knew it was coming.

"I think if something that small can irritate you, that's a bigger issue in itself."

That last comment showed a complete self-awareness of all aspects of Barty's game.

It showed, to me at least, that the Springfield local has come a long way in the past 12 months not just with the physical aspects of her game, but the mental ones as well.

That poise under pressure, and ability to block out distractions will (hopefully) hold her in good stead for a deep run into the Australian Open.

Berdych a task too-far for De Minaur

SYDNEY-sider Alex De Minaur was the flavour on everyone's lips in the lead-up to the Australian Open.

The teen came seemingly out of nowhere to reach the final of the Sydney International, and thus the eyes of Australia were on the youngster in his opening round match against 19th seed Tomas Berdych.

Quite unrealistic expectations were put on the 18-year-old's shoulders to upset the Czech veteran, although the signs were promising after he levelled at one set a-piece.

But De Minaur was riding a wave that was always likely to crash at some point, and the budding super star managed to take just one more game off Berdych in a four-set defeat.

As disappointing as the loss may have been, the promise young De Minaur showed means Aussie tennis fans have another young talent to follow in the months and years to follow.



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