'Oh my goodness': Ash Barty's brutal act ahead of US Open bid

Ash Barty (pictured right) looking at her opponent and (pictured left) hitting a forehand winner.
Ash Barty (pictured right) produced some stunning tennis (pictured left) to defeat Victoria Azarenka 6-0, 6-2 at the Southern & Western Open. (Images: @wta/Getty Images)

World No.1 Ash Barty shed any rust that might have been lingering after a couple of weeks off after an absolute masterclass against 14th seed Victoria Azarenka at the Southern & Western Open.

The Australian looked to be finding her groove in her opening match against Heather Watson, but in the highly-anticipated showdown with Azarenka, Barty swept her aside in a near flawless 6-0, 6-2 win.

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While Barty was impressive, and it was just the match she needed to find her rhythm on the hard surface, Azarenka was unusually poor.

Barty was aided by an uncharacteristically flaky, error-strewn effort from her fellow two-time grand slam champion, as she easily swept aside her Belarusian friend and old doubles partner in just 70 minutes.

The Wimbledon champ won the first 10 games and looked for all the world as if she was going to condemn the double Australian Open winner 'Vika' to the humiliation of a 'double bagel' victory on Centre Court.

But world No.13 Azarenka, who was out of sorts, cursing at herself and at one point hurling down her racquet in disgust at her own ineptitude, was at least spared the indignity of the whitewash as she finally got on the board in the 11th game.

It was a brief stay of execution and, though she did win another service game and repelled two match points, Barty raced to victory, firing 25 winners as she set up a quarter-final with either Barbora Krejcikova or Garbine Muguruza

The tennis world couldn't quite believe what they had seen as Barty laid down a marker ahead of the US Open starting in fewer than two weeks.

Ash Barty praises Azarenka after huge win

Barty was all class after her victory and praised her old doubles partner after she moved to 20-1 against Top 20 opponents in 2021.

"Vika has this way of bringing out the very best of me," said Barty, who leads their career head-to-heads 3-1 now.

"I've enjoyed playing on the same side as her in doubles, we've had success in doubles, we're great mates and have a lot of respect for another. That means we always have very good battles.

"I knew Vika was going to be exceptionally tough and I felt like I played a great match throughout the whole thing."

Indeed, the Queenslander had definitely moved up a gear from her hard-fought victory 24 hours earlier against Briton Heather Watson and is beginning to look in the mood to take a fifth title of her remarkable globetrotting year.

"I felt like I was able to control my service games quite well, and win a lot of free points on my first serve, which was key," said Barty.

"Then I could build pressure on Vika's serve. When I'm able to look after my own games, it gives me freedom to play more aggressively on her service games, and I felt I had a really good balance with that today."

with AAP

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