MELBOURNE, Australia ( Associated Press) — Ash Barty was front and center when the Australian Open celebrated its first ever First Nations Day.
Although not for very long. Top-ranked Barty has Indigenous heritage and her second-round match at Melbourne Park’s main stadium on Wednesday was one of the highlights of an event dedicated to Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
She was on and off the court in 52 minutes, beating 142nd-ranked qualifier Lucia Bronzetti 6-1, 6-1.
“Very cool. … It felt good for me to be a part of it in the way I feel most comfortable with,” Barty said. “One day when we’re bringing the culture together … it was really nice for me to go out and enjoy it.
“I was really lucky to be able to play today.”
Barty extended his serve hold to 48 games and advanced to the third round at Melbourne Park for the sixth year in a row.
The 2021 Wimbledon and 2019 French Open champion lost just one game in her first-round match, which took less than an hour, as she bids to become the first Australian woman to win the country’s Grand Slam tournament since 1978.
Barty will next face 30th seed Camilla Georgi of Italy. She wins, and Barty could end up in a fourth-round performance against defending champion Naomi Osaka.
Eighth seed Paula Badosa registered a 6-0, 6-3 win over Italian qualifier Martina Trevison in the opening match of the day at the Rod Laver Arena.
Badosa won the title at the Sydney TuneUp tournament last week, when he registered back-to-back match victories in Australia for the first time.
In other early second-round results on the third day, two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka defeated Jill Tekman 6–1, 6–2 to face 15-seeded Elina Svitolina, 6–3, in the next round. Was leading by 5. -7, 5-1 when Harmony Tan retired from their second round match.
21 Jessica Pegula beat fellow American Bernarda Pera 6-4, 6-4 and Madison Keys registered a 6-2, 7-5 win over Jacqueline Edina Christiansen.
Svitolina waited on the court at the Margaret Court Arena until Tan, who had received treatment on her lower left leg after the fifth game of the third set, was removed in a wheelchair.
“It’s always terrible when an athlete gets injured in competition. He played really well and that didn’t make it easy for me,” Svitolina said. “I was a tough match. It’s hard to see a player getting out like this.”
With a heavy bandage on her lower left leg, 24-year-old Tan could not even move the ball as Svitolina served. The ailing Frenchwoman returned to underarm service, hoping to be able to finish the match rather than retire.
Chair umpire Richard High told Tan to stop or risk doing more damage as she also appeared to be struggling with a cramp in her right leg.
When her mother signaled from the grandstand for her to leave, Tan left the court in tears after a hug from Svitolina and applause from the crowd.
Associated Press Freelancer Bruce Mathews contributed to this report.
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