Ash Barty battled back to win both sets against Ekaterina Alexandrova and book a place in the fourth round of the Australian Open. (More Sports News)
The world number one triumphed 6-2 6-4 after one hour and 21 minutes on court, though there was no crowd present to cheer on the home favourite due to the five-day lockdown in place in Victoria.
Barty admitted that, with fans having been allowed into Melbourne Park earlier in the tournament, there was a different – if not completely unpleasant – atmosphere to proceedings in the evening session on Margaret Court Arena.
"It's very strange, it changes the sound of the court a little bit," the Australian – who played with her left thigh heavily strapped having pulled out of doubles duty on Friday – said during her on-court interview.
"I love the crowd, but I love the sound the ball makes. It feels a bit like practice."
Beware @ashbartyFebruary 13, 2021
Barty lost her opening service game as she quickly fell 2-0 behind at the start of the contest, though she hit back impressively to take the opener against the 29th seed.
The 2019 French Open champion claimed six successive games, hitting just five winners as the policy of keeping the ball in play paid off thanks to 16 unforced errors from her opponent.
Alexandrova was more consistent in the second set, leading to a break of serve that she quickly consolidated to make the score 4-2.
However, the Russian was unable to cling on to her advantage and, when serving to stay in the match, let slip two opportunities to extend proceedings. Barty will next face Shelby Rogers, who knocked out 21st seed Anett Kontaveit in straight sets.
Data Slam: Barty – who did not hit a return winner during her third-round match – triumphed in the only previous meeting with American Rogers, which came at the Australian Open back in 2017.
Barty – 14/19
Alexandrova – 17/30
Barty – 4/3
Alexandrova – 4/1
BREAK POINTS WON
Barty – 5/17
Alexandrova – 2/3