Barty ousts Gavrilova from Australian Open

·3-min read

Ash Barty is refusing to get ahead of herself after another straight-sets triumph and the shock removal of defending champion Sofia Kenin sent the world No.1's Australian Open title prospects soaring.

Barty cast friendship aside to advance to the third round at Melbourne Park for a fifth straight year with a 6-1 7-6 (9-7) win over Fed Cup teammate Daria Gavrilova.

Barty's victory was much less convincing than her 6-0 6-0 first-round mauling of Danka Kovinic.

But with Kenin suffering a 6-3 6-2 loss to Estonian veteran Kaia Kanepi, suddenly her biggest roadblock to the final has cleared.

Kenin crashed the Barty party in the semi-finals last year and had been slated to strike the top seed at the same stage next week.

Instead Elina Svitolina, Karolina Pliskova and Belinda Bencic - three players Barty beat en route to winning the 2019 WTA Finals in China - shape as the home hope's biggest threats in the top half of the draw.

Not that Barty is taking anything from Kenin's surprise exit.

"Doesn't affect me whatsoever," the 24-year-old said.

"I've just been playing my own match and controlling what I can control from my end.

"Without even being aware that she was playing today, no disrespect to anyone, but I don't look much at the schedule except for when I'm scheduled to play."

Barty didn't need Gavrilova - ranked 387th in the world as she continues her comeback from a foot injury - to push her hard on Thursday to know that the depth of women's tennis can't be underestimated.

"There are no easy matches in any tour event, any slam, anything," she said.

"Every time you walk on the court, you have to try and be able to bring your best tennis to be able to compete with everyone.

"That's just the level that there is now on the women's side."

Barty looked to be cruising towards an easy win over Gavrilova until losing her way from 5-2 up in the second set.

The top seed dropped serve twice while trying to close out the match, then had to save two set points in the tiebreaker before eventually prevailing after one hour and 32 minutes.

She coughed up six double-faults and committed 34 unforced errors and said it was tough playing against a friend after sharing a practice court with Gavrilova on Thursday morning just two hours before going into battle.

"When you play another Aussie, you play a compatriot, the rankings go out the window. Experience goes out the window," Barty said.

"Typically you know each other very well so it was always going to be a tricky match no matter what."

Barty will return on Saturday to play Ekaterina Alexandrova for a fourth-round berth after Russia's No.29 seed downed Czech Barbora Krejcikova 6-3 7-6 (7-4).