Ashleigh Barty roars back to make winning start in Melbourne , Latest Tennis News - The New Paper

Ashleigh Barty roars back to make winning start in Melbourne

World No. 1 and home hope Ashleigh Barty suffered a scare before she "tightened the screws" to power into the second round of the Australian Open yesterday.

The 23-year-old recovered from an error-strewn start to see off Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 under the roof at a partisan and wet Melbourne.

Barty, under huge pressure to deliver a home women's champion for the first time since Chris O'Neil in 1978, said after dismissing the 120th-ranked Ukrainian that she had always felt in control, despite the indifferent start.

"I was pressing a little bit early, made a few too many errors," said Barty.

"Was able to tighten the screws in the second set and run away with it... was disappointing to not have started well, but being able to rectify that so quickly at the start of the second set was really important."

Earlier, third seed Naomi Osaka began her title defence in emphatic fashion, breaking the net with a serve as she dismantled Czech Marie Bouzkova.

The 22-year-old two-time Grand Slam champion powered through 6-2, 6-4 in 80 minutes.

Also advancing to the second round was Serena Williams, who put aside her concerns about the air quality at Melbourne Park as she trounced Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-3 in under an hour.

The air quality was officially rated good yesterday.

"I am concerned. It changes every day," the eighth seed said, as she remained on course for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title.

"That is still a concern for pretty much everyone... we are just waiting every day to see how the air quality would be... Today, it seemed normal."

Williams' sister Venus will not be extending her Melbourne stay after she was beaten 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 by Coco Gauff - the second time the 15-year-old has dumped the veteran out in a Grand Slam first round.

Gauff, ranked 67 in the world, defeated the seven-time Grand Slam winner in the first round last year at Wimbledon.

It was also a disappointing outing for former US Open champion Sloane Stephens, who became the highest seed to exit the women's draw on day one.

The 24th-seeded American lost 6-2, 5-7, 2-6 to Zhang Shuai. - AFP, REUTERS