World no. 1 Ashleigh Barty is through to the fourth round of the Australian Open following a dominant 6-3, 6-2 triumph over an in-form Kazakh Elena Rybakina in an hour and 18 minutes. Rybakina had won 11 of the first 12 matches of the season before this encounter but stood no chance today, struggling on both the first and second serve to suffer five breaks from nine opportunities offered to the Aussie who barely put a foot wrong.
Barty did lose serve twice but no one could notice that following that impressive performance on the return, hitting 28 winners and 16 unforced errors to leave the youngster far behind and march into the last 16. The home favorite described the victory as her best during the Aussie summer so far, enjoying every minute on the court and hoping for more of the same in the matches to come.
Elena made the best possible start, breaking world no. 1 at love in the first game before Ashleigh forced an error from her in game two to erase the deficit and get back to the positive side of the scoreboard. Finding the range on the return in those early games, the hard-hitting Kazakh fired a forehand winner that earned another break for her in the third game, wasting game points for a 3-1 lead and allowing Ashleigh to break back and level the score at 2-2.
The Aussie delivered three commanding holds in the rest of the set and Rybakina couldn't follow that pattern, missing an easy volley to suffer a break in game six to send the rival 4-2 ahead. Elena fended off a set point with a service winner in game eight before Ashleigh closed the set with a forehand down the line winner in the next game for a 6-3 after 32 minutes.
Another forehand down the line winner secured an early break for Barty in set number two, with the Aussie fending off three break chances in the next game to confirm the lead and move closer to the finish line. Ashleigh broke again in the fifth game and repelled break chances in games six and eight to seal the deal and run over the top in style.
"It was a really tough one; I felt I needed to be switched on. A lot of the games were long and tough and happy to get out of them at the right time. It was the best match I have played this summer so far; this is why I train and work so hard - to come out here, I love every minute of playing in front of the home fans," Barty said.