Injury — and compatriot Daria Gavrilova — gave world No.1 Ash Barty a tough challenge, but her crowd conducting skills post-match were a “shambles”.
Injury — and compatriot Daria Gavrilova — gave world No.1 Ash Barty a tough challenge, but her crowd conducting skills post-match were a “shambles”.

Ash’s crowd ‘shambles’ after Dasha battle

World No.1 Ash Barty has survived her all-local clash with Daria Gavrilova to advance to the third round of the Australian Open despite briefly unravelling with the finish line in sight.

Barty never reached any great heights - certainly nothing like last week's Yarra Valley Classic title triumph over Garbine Muguruza - but she was still too good when required.

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The top seed dropped serve at the start of both sets, but more peculiar was how, after serving for the match at 5-2 in the second set, she conceded four games in a row as Gavrilova forced a tie-breaker.

Barty even had to save a pair of set points - one on Gavrilova's serve - before a wayward forehand sealed her an at-times shaky 6-1 7-6(9-7) victory.

As always, Barty deferred to her opponent.

"Firstly it's so nice to see her (Dasha) back." Barty said after the match.

"She has had a bit of a tricky run with injury over the last 18 months or so, so it's nice to see her back out competing.

"I think when you play another Aussie you play a compatriot rankings and experience goes out the window.

"It's just typically you know each other very well. Always going to be a tricky match, no matter what.

"Genuinely I'm so pleased that she is back out here competing and healthy again.

Post-match, Barty tried to get the crowd to sing happy birthday to presenter and great mate Casey Dellacqua - it didn't go well as she called the muffled effort a "shambles".

There will naturally be plenty of focus on the 24-year-old's fitness, after she strode out with significant strapping on her left thigh, as she did in her doubles match on Wednesday.

But Barty insisted she is fit as a fiddle.

"Is just trying to do the best I can and obviously having 12 months off, it's a little rusty, but certainly happy with how I've been able to fight through the last couple of weeks.

"It's not subtle (the taped thigh) I'm fit as a fiddle. I'm good to go. It's been nice to get some matches and general soreness is good, but this one it's not super subtle."

The dramatic momentum shift coincided with Gavrilova's belated aggressive play, which also saw her earn some much-needed free points on serve, as Barty committed some uncharacteristic errors.

Gavrilova deserved the more favourable scoreline, but Barty should be somewhat concerned with how quickly the second set got away from her.

One of Gavrilova's biggest problems early was she couldn't find any advantage on serve, dropping six of her first seven service games.

The former world No.20 won only seven of 25 second-serve points, but showed enough to suggest she'll be able to soon be back inside the top 100 after her series of foot-related injuries.

Barty progresses to a match-up with one of 29th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, of Russia, or Czech Republic's Barbora Krejcikova.

Originally published as Ash's crowd 'shambles' after Dasha battle