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Australian Open: Home favourite Ashleigh Barty continued her quest for glory in Melbourne

Ashleigh Barty eased into the third round of the Australian Open with the minimum of fuss, overwhelming Lucia Bronzetti on Rod Laver Arena; the top seed next faces another Italian in Camila Giorgi, with defending champion Naomi Osaka potentially waiting in the fourth round

Naomi Osaka
Image: Naomi Osaka and Ashleigh Barty advanced with straight set wins at the Australian Open

Red-hot Ashleigh Barty continued to breeze through the Australian Open draw with another thumping win at Melbourne Park on Wednesday, while Naomi Osaka stayed on course to successfully defend her title.

Having dropped just one game in her opening match, world No 1 Barty made it only three in two matches, seeing off Italian qualifier Lucia Bronzetti 6-1 6-1 in just 52 minutes.

Barty, who is aiming to be the first Australian woman to win the home championship since 1978, hammered 11 winners to wrap up the first set in 25 minutes and she was equally as dominant in the second, sealing the victory in under an hour.

Bronzetti, the world No 142, failed to muster up a single break point over the contest as the Wimbledon champion lobbed, sliced and pounded her into submission in the bright Melbourne sunshine.

A proud indigenous Australian, Barty followed in the footsteps of trailblazer Evonne Goolagong Cawley by winning the Wimbledon title last year.

She spoke glowingly of Goolagong Cawley's influence on young indigenous athletes and said she was glad she was able to play on the tournament's inaugural First Nations Peoples Day.

"It was nice for me to be a part of it in a way that I feel most comfortable, I suppose," Barty said. "Out on the tennis court is how I express myself as an athlete, it's how I'm able to express myself as a person as well.

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"On a day we're bringing cultures together, it was really nice for me to go out and enjoy that. Just met a few of the kids that have come down from Alice Springs and all around Australia, which is amazing for them"

Osaka stays on course

Osaka survived a close second set to see off American Madison Brengle 6-0 6-4.

The 13th seed was ruthless in the first set, hitting 13 winners to zero, but Brengle began to make life difficult for the defending champion in the second set and led by a break at 4-3.

Osaka recomposed herself immediately, though, and reeled off three games in a row to clinch victory and set up a clash with young American Amanda Anisimova.

Anisimova said of meeting Osaka: "I've been wanting to play her for a while. I'll enjoy it, I'll enjoy the atmosphere. She's an amazing player, so I'll look forward to that."

Eighth seed Paula Badosa was almost as emphatic, the in-form Spaniard winning 6-0 6-3 against Martina Trevisan.

"I'm really proud of myself. One year ago I was locked in a room," Badosa said.

"Being here and playing centre court, because of me, not because I'm playing a seeded player, because now I'm the seeded player, I'm happy."

Badosa rallied after her inauspicious start to 2021 to win her first two WTA titles, including at Indian Wells, and ended the season reaching the last four at the Tour Finals.

Next up is Ukrainian teenager Marta Kostyuk, who she beat in the final round of qualifying at Melbourne Park in their only previous meeting in 2019.

Azarenka, Svitolina & Keys advance

Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka sealed a comfortable 6-1 6-2 victory over Swiss Jil Teichmann.

Earlier, 15th seed Elina Svitolina advanced when Harmony Tan retired from their match with a knee issue and left the court in a wheelchair.

Tan was down 6-3 5-7 5-1 when she called it a day.

Italian Camila Giorgi reached the third round at Melbourne for the fourth time with a 6-2 7-6 (7-2) win over Tereza Martincova to set up a meeting with world No 1 Barty next.

Former US Open runner-up Madison Keys staved off a late comeback attempt by Jaqueline Cristian to beat the Romanian 6-2 7-5.

The Adelaide champion has won seven straight matches now.

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