World No.1 Ash Barty is marching on at Melbourne Park.
World No.1 Ash Barty is marching on at Melbourne Park.

Barty sidesteps banana skin with slick display

ASHLEIGH Barty has weathered a sluggish start and Elena Rybakina's power to steam into the Australian Open's fourth round.

Maintaining hopes of ending the nation's 42-year Open singles title drought, Barty rebounded from early serving woes to advance 6-3 6-2 in only 78 minutes.

Pitted against the most successful woman on the tour this season, world No.1 Barty showcased class and skill with 28 winners and just 16 unforced errors.

"Very tough one, I felt like I had to be switched on," she said.

"It's probably the best I've played this summer.

"This is why I train, why I work so hard to come out here for these moments."

Australia's Ash Barty crushes a forehand return in her win over Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina. Picture: AP
Australia's Ash Barty crushes a forehand return in her win over Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina. Picture: AP

The Queenslander is bidding to become the first Australian to lift the Daphne Akhurst trophy since Chris O'Neil at Kooyong in 1978.

Rybakina, who had won 11 of 12 matches this year entering her clash with Barty, clearly threatened the French Open champion early before repeatedly blundering.

The Kazakh hammered 28 winners but imploded with 30 unforced errors and five dropped service games.

Barty has notched seven wins in succession, winning the Adelaide crown and reaching the last 16 here in Melbourne after her loss to Jennifer Brady in Brisbane.

Barty will face either her doubles partner Julia Gorges, of Germany, or Alison Riske, the American who eliminated her at Wimbledon last July.

"It's incredible, Jules is a great friend of mine," Barty said of a possible singles encounter with her doubles partner.



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