Ashleigh Barty Leads The WTA Big Guns Towards A Blockbuster Second Week In Australia

Ash Barty in action at the WTA Adelaide International.
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Day 3 at the 2022 Australian Open reminded me of a bodybuilding competition. Bear with me.

In Mr. Universe and other Arnold Schwarzenegger-based events, the “competitors” take it in turns to come out and strut their stuff on the stage. The competitors are posing and flexing and hoping to impress the onlookers and intimidate their rivals. In Australia, the first day of the second round saw woman after woman come out and do the same thing. Except they were carrying a racket and dressed for top level sport rather than a day at the beach.

Ashleigh Barty Leads The Way

The biggest gun of them all at the moment is the World #1, Ashleigh Barty. She spoke after her first round victory about how proud she was of her heritage and the joy she feels in expressing herself on the court, more of that was in evidence against Lucia Bronzetti. Her early round draws have not been difficult but the way she has put the opponents away, losing only 3 games across 4 sets, has been breathtaking. Barty has now not been broken in five matches consecutively. The rest of the draw will be concerned about the relaxed nature of Barty’s play, will this remain throughout the tournament?

Osaka’s response¬†

The first danger to Barty’s party is likely to be the defending champion. The pair are on a collision course as early as the fourth round. The first set the Japanese star played against Madison Brengle on Day 3 seemed to demonstrate that she was totally ready for the fight. However, the level wasn’t maintained in the second set. The fact that there was a positive response to pressure though and a grinding out of the victory should be positive signs in the long run for Osaka. The big clash is still on for the beginning of the second week.

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Azarenka, Badosa, & Krejcikova impressive

However, the stories don’t just revolve around Barty and Osaka. The WTA has a huge supporting cast at present. Victoria Azarenka has incredible hard court pedigree stretching back over a decade, including two Australian Open titles. Her match record data on the synthetic surface is better than practically anyone else still active in the game. Her resurgence in her career is now bringing her to the point of being a dangerous contender for the biggest titles once more. A thrashing of Jil Teichmann, the 2021 Cincinnati finalist and world #34, for the loss of only three games demonstrated how in form she is at the moment.

Paula Badosa showed no mercy to Italian Martina Trevisan in an opening set that lasted half an hour, winning it 6-0. The Indian Wells champion from 2021 is looking so confident right now. The groundstrokes are strong, deep and accurate, and she has a look in her eyes that defines her confidence at the moment. Her rise from a mid-ranking player to a serial winner and Top 5 player is an inspiring one to many on the WTA Tour.

Badosa is searching for a maiden Grand Slam title, but Barbora Krejcikova has already crowned her rise with the Roland-Garros title in 2021. Now her hard court form is looking impressive with a straightforward straight sets win against the promising Chinese player Wang Xiyu. It was unusual to see how often the Czech was broken but equally impressive that Krejcikova’s return game was so dynamic. Another big contender in the top half.

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Madison Keys back to her best?

Amazingly, the exciting performances stretched even further down the field in this half of the draw. Madison Keys looks back near her best after a title the week before and now two positive wins. Jessica Pegula could yet be a dark horse, a battling win from her against countrywoman Bernarda Pera saw her into the third round. Amanda Anisimova continued her winning streak, now at seven, and her partnership with famous coach Darren Cahill appears to have made a massive difference already.

This is without mentioning Camila Giorgi, Jelena Ostapenko, and Elina Svitolina, who all have massive titles to their names already in their careers and won through to the third round.

The women’s draw is red hot in the top half. The tennis world can’t wait to see what happens next.

Main Photo from Getty.