Extraordinary detail in photo of Ash Barty before Australian Open victory

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

Well you certainly don’t see this very often.

Just hours before Ash Barty’s third round clash with Elena Rybakina at the Australian Open on Friday, the World No.1 was spotted practicing side-by-side with her opponent.

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You often see opponents practicing at the same time before a big match, but usually on separate courts.

Barty and Rybakina were having a hit side-by-side on Rod Laver on Thursday morning.

As they say, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

If nothing else, it shows the camaraderie and sportsmanship that Barty has become known for - not above sharing her practice time with someone she’s just about to go into battle with.

She showed that same sportsmanship on Thursday when she paid a lovely tribute to the woman she just knocked out of the Australian Open in the women’s doubles.

Barty was also spotted looking very relaxed as she warmed up for the match, kicking a footy and sharing some laughs with partner Garry Kissick.

Barty cruises into fourth round

Barty rose to the challenge and moved safely into the fourth round with a steely win over Rybakina.

The World No.1 proved too classy for the in-form Kazakh, weathering an early storm before carving out a 6-3 6-2 victory on Rod Laver Arena.

The 20-year-old Rybakina had won 11 of her first 12 matches in 2020, winning the title in Hobart after reaching the final in Shenzhen.

Litter wonder the top seed and big home hope was relieved to negotiate her way through to the last 16 for the second straight year.

Ash Barty in action at the Australian Open. (Photo by Jason Heidrich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

"A really tough one. I felt I needed to be switched on. A lot of the games were long and tough and happy to get out of them. The best match I have played this summer so far," Barty said after extending her summer winning streak to seven matches.

Barty next plays either American 18th seed Alison Riske, who knocked her out of Wimbledon last year, or her German doubles partner Julia Goerges on Sunday for a quarter-final berth.

Barty is flying the flag for the Australian women.

The elimination of fellow local hopes Ajla Tomljanovic, Priscilla Hon and Arina Rodionova at the Australian Open on Thursday left world No.1 Barty as the only local remaining in the women's singles draw.

with AAP