x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

French Open: Young Ashleigh Barty crashes the party in Paris

Round-up:The 17-year-old Australian will next face Russian 12th seed Maria Kirilenko, while an elusive first grand slam continues to evade Caroline Wozniacki.

Ashleigh Barty says her first-round loss to Petra Kvitova last year has served her in good stead. Julian Finney / Getty Images
Ashleigh Barty says her first-round loss to Petra Kvitova last year has served her in good stead. Julian Finney / Getty Images

The Australian teenager Ashleigh Barty, at 17 the second-youngest player in the draw behind the 16-year-old Croatian Donna Vekic, reached the second round of the French Open with an impressive 7-5, 2-6, 6-1 win over Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic.

The teenager from Ipswich, Queensland, secured her first success in the main draw of a grand slam event and moved on to a meeting with the Russian 12th seed Maria Kirilenko.

All that was missing were her parents, but they were soon on the phone passing on congratulations.

"Mum and Dad are back home. My phone's been going a bit crazy, but I haven't had time to look at it yet," said Barty, who first came to prominence in winning the junior Wimbledon title in 2011.

Asked if she had any thoughts on her second-round opponent, she said: "I hadn't even looked at the draw, I hadn't even thought about it. I've never made it to a second round before."

On her Roland Garros debut last year, likewise as a wild-card entrant, she lost in the opening round to the eventual semi-finalist Petra Kvitova.

"Last year playing Petra was a bit David against Goliath, but you can't buy experience like that.

"Maybe it was too early, but it's helped me this year."

Kvitova was too formidable 12 months ago, but Barty has improved significantly since, and on this occasion her first-round contest with a Czech had a happy ending. Hradecka is better known for her doubles abilities; she teamed with Andrea Hlavackova in winning the pairs title in Paris in 2011.

Against Kirilenko, Barty will come up against a player whose doubles dreams she ended at the Australian Open when, partnering Casey Dellacqua - "one of my closest mates" - she went all the way to the final. Barty says she will look to take as much from her next match as possible as she builds on each experience.

"I'm not putting too much pressure on myself," she said, adding: "I definitely feel more comfortable" in the grand slam arena compared with her opening campaign last year.

"I'm in the second round and it's really exciting."

In other women's action yesterday, the No 10 seed Caroline Wozniacki was ousted by Serbia's Bojana Jovanovski 7-6, 6-3. Wozniacki, the former world No 1, has never won a slam singles title.

Serena Williams, the world No 1, advanced to the third round as the 2002 French Open champion dispatched France's Garcia 6-1, 6-2.

Victoria Azarenka, the No 3 seed, stayed on track in her bid to win the event for the first time as she defeated Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-4.

The Belarusian, who has never been beyond the quarter-finals, said: "I want to be able to slide better on the clay, especially on the left foot as well as the right. That's my goal this year."

The Polish fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanksa, who has never got beyond the fourth round, eased past Mallory Burdette of the United States 6-3, 6-2.

She had been scheduled to tackle her sister for a place in the last 16, but Urszula, who put out Venus Williams in the first round, crashed out 6-3, 6-3 to the German qualifier Dinah Pfizenmaier, the world No 127.

* Agencies

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