World No 1 and top seed Ashleigh Barty puts in gritty performance to fight back from a set down against Lesia Tsurenko and advance to second round of Australian Open
Home hero Ashleigh Barty fought back from a set down to beat Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko in three sets (5-7, 6-1, 6-1) in the first round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
The world No 1 justified her top seeding, recovering from losing the first set to storm through the second and third both 6-1.
Tsurenko came out all guns blazing to stun the top seed by breaking her serve in the first game of the match.
Barty, 23, battled through, breaking back to love in the fourth and backing it up with a hold to love to get back to level pegging.
The Ukrainian was unfazed by Barty's raised level and managed another break in the crucial seventh game, only to be broken back herself. Taking eight points in a row it was back into the lead for the Aussie.
After winning the next two to go 6-5 up and serve for the set Tsurenko seemed to be letting nerves get the better of her opening with a double fault and hitting another at 15-30. She kept her cool and, in a game strewn with errors, Barty closed out the set hitting her 19th unforced error of the day.
Barty quickly found her form for the second set and was soon 3-0 up after consolidating a break for the first time in the match. She stormed to a 6-1 second set victory, making only five errors in the process.
Capitalising on this, the home hopeful continued to demonstrate her class in the third set, again taking it 6-1 as Tsurenko couldn't keep up with the pace and fittingly finished with a double fault to lose the match.
Afterwards Barty said: "It’s amazing to be back out here. It’s a tight turnaround from Adelaide but really nice to sort it out a little bit more in the second set there, sharpen up and do what I needed to do.
"In the first set, it was still in my control, it was just a little bit of execution and I was just rushing a little bit, trying to finish off points too early.
"Once I got my physicality into it, I felt a lot more comfortable and I was able to look after my service games a little better and not get behind in the set, which was important."
Fellow Australian Samanta Stosur was also in action in but lost in straight sets (6-1, 6-4) to qualifier Caty Mcnally.
Stosur quickly quashed rumours of retirement. After the game when asked if she would be at the Slam next year she grinned and replied: "I'm planning on it."