It took world No.1 Ash Barty just 44 minutes to dispatch first round Australian Open opponent, Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic, in a near-perfect display.
Barty surrendered just 10 points on her way to a 6-0, 6-0 battering of Kovinic in what was no doubt a warning shot to her grand slam rivals.
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World No.86 Kovinic was outclassed in almost every aspect of the game in the decidedly one-sided affair, and earned some sympathy from fans after going through quarantine only to be swiftly bundled out of the tournament.
However while some sympathy was deserved, one look at the going rate for a first-round loss at the Australian Open would be enough to soothe the bruised ego of all but the most extravagantly wealthy.
Kovinic took home $100,000 in prizemoney for her trouble, on top of free flights to Melbourne and the cost of hotel quarantine covered by Tennis Australia.
One Twitter user pointed out the 26-year-old had earned $2,272.73 a minute for the 44-minute long drubbing.
Ash Barty wipes out Danka Kovinić in just 44 minutes.
Kovinić earned AU$2,272.73 per minute of the match played, or AU$37.88 per second 👍🏼
Safe flight home. https://t.co/nB2a6eh36E
— Mat Jessep (@MatJessep) February 9, 2021
Sympathy for Montenegro's Danka Kovinic. She went through 14 days' hard Australian quarantine, only to lose 6-0, 6-0 to Ash Barty in 44 minutes. A colossal waste of time, were it not for the £56,000 first-round loser's cheque.
— Oliver Brown (@oliverbrown_tel) February 9, 2021
Barty’s victory set the stage for an interesting second-round match-up against fellow Australian Daria Gavrilova.
The first-up display was a remarkable performance from Barty, who had been off the tennis tour for 11 months before returning for a recent Australian Open warm-up event.
"Absolutely, every single day," Barty replied during her on-court interview when asked if she missed the sport.
"The competitor in me missed what this is all about, missed the last hour before we come out on the court when (my coach Craig Tyzzer) and I chat about how we're going to try to dissect the match.
"That's what I miss the most - coming out here and enjoying that thrill of the fight.
"That's what it's all about is coming here and enjoying it. It's impossible not to enjoy a night session on this beautiful court."
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Gavrilova, the former world No.20 whose ranking has since slipped to 387, defeated world No.64 Sorribes Tormo 6-1 7-5 in a clinical display on Tuesday night.
The 26-year-old said she was thrilled, and perhaps a little nervous, to face Barty at their home grand slam.
"I'm pretty excited. I mean, I haven't played Ash in ages," Gavrilova said.
"It's going to be really fun."
Barty holds a 3-1 head-to-head advantage in WTA matches over Gavrilova.
The pair have a friendly relationship off the court, but Barty's ascension to world No.1 means Gavrilova can't help but feel intimidated at times.
"I have a lot of respect for Ash," Gavrilova said of her Fed Cup teammate.
"You know, she was training at Xavier (College) while the internationals were in quarantine, and me and Luke just are sharing one car and he left, but he was going to drop me off.
"Anyway, long story. I was scared to ask Ash for a lift. I was like, 'Ash, can you please give me a lift?'
"She's like, 'Oh my God, you're an idiot. Let's go'.
"She's incredible. She's someone if we travel, she's the first one to find a good coffee shop.
"But we are definitely completely different personalities. Like complete opposites. But we get along on tour and she's someone I definitely look up to."
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