‘Three foot’ Ashleigh Barty battles through with Coco Gauff on horizon

Having scratched from Roland Garros in the second round after aggravating an old hip injury, Ashleigh Barty could be forgiven for wanting to ease herself into Wimbledon as gently as possible. In that respect at least, 彼女 6-4, 6-3 second-round defeat of Anna Blinkova on Thursday was mission accomplished for the No 1 seed, who remains the favourite to claim a first singles title here on Saturday week.

Scratch the surface, でも, and this was an unconvincing success for Barty, who handed freebies to her Russian opponent almost from the first point to the last and ended the match with no fewer than 33 unforced errors against her name. Blinkova, ranked 89 世界中, did not have the quality to make Barty pay, but stronger opponents await her in the second week and they are unlikely to be as generous.

Barty’s serve was fragile from the start and her only convincing service game in the first set came as she closed it out to love. Her first serve in the opener was at 56%, while errors included three double-faults in her first service game and two more, including one at game point, in her fourth. Both games were lost, and had Blinkova’s serve not proved every bit as brittle the outcome could have been very different.

Blinkova was broken again to open the second set and from there the result was never in much doubt. But there was no sign either that Barty would run away with it, and she handed back the break in the fourth game after going 30-0 up. Two more double faults – one at game point, the next at break point – were added to a total of nine in all.

The possibility that the world No 1 is still feeling her hip injury was raised in the post-match press conference, but swiftly dismissed. “I feel fine,” Barty said. “I think it was just not a great serving day, and certainly not something I’m going to blow out of proportion.

“I felt like I was just out of rhythm a little bit, a few technical things were not quite feeling spot on. But you have those days, some days you feel like you’re eight foot tall and you can’t miss the box, other days, like today, you feel like you’re three foot nothing and just getting it over the net is a bit of a battle. So I think we just go back to work, it’s certainly nothing that will concern me over a longer period.”

Barty will face Katerina Siniakova, 世界いいえ 64, for a place in the fourth round, and lost another seed from her half of the draw on Thursday when Elina Svitolina, いいえ 3 seed and a semi-finalist at ウィンブルドン two years ago, went out in straight sets to Magda Linette of Poland. ココガウフ, しかしながら, made short work of Elena Vesnina, 勝つ 6-4, 6-3 に 71 minutes on Centre Court, and the 17-year-old remains on course for a possible semi-final against Barty next week.

Gauff found the target with 71% of her first serves in the opening set, including her first 120mph serve of the tournament, and gave up just a single break in the match. She did not look back after saving two break points at 2-3 in the first set and will now face either the unseeded Kaja Juvan or the qualifier Clara Burel in the third round.

“It did feel different [to her previous Centre Court experience in 2019],” Gauff said. “I honestly was more nervous coming in to today’s match. I think the biggest thing is I don’t really remember much from my Centre Court experience in 2019, I feel like it was all a blur.

“Going into today, I felt like a completely different player and person. I felt like there were moments in the match when the pressure was on, where I could have mentally disengaged with the match in the past, but I did a good job of calming my nerves.

"私のため, it was just trying to get a rhythm, I made a lot of unforced errors, more than I’m used to, but when I needed to step in, I did and my serve is really what helped me today. My serve has been helping me all throughout the French and all throughout here so that’s what I relied on today.”

Angelique Kerber, the champion in 2018 and runner-up two years earlier, is a potential fourth-round opponent for Gauff, but needed three closely fought sets to knock out Sara Sorribes Tormo, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4.

In the other half of the draw, Karolina Pliskova, いいえ 8 seed and a former world No 1, breezed past Donna Vekic 6-2, 6-2 and will now meet the unseeded Tereza Martincova, who beat Nadia Podoroska to reach the third round for the first time.

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