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MELBOURNE, Jan 13 (Reuters) - A ruthless Serena Williams kicked off her bid for an 18th grand slam title with a 6-2 6-1 demolition of local wildcard Ashleigh Barty to advance to the Australian Open second round on Monday.
After breaking the 155th-ranked Barty early, Williams reeled off seven consecutive games to march to a 4-0 lead in the second set under the lights of Rod Laver Arena.
A former Wimbledon girls' champion, Barty pumped her fists in the air after finally holding serve, raising a rare roar from the crowd.
But she was powerless to prevent the American, who did not lose a point off her first serve, from cruising to her 23rd consecutive win and setting up a second round match with Serbia's Vesna Dolonc.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Justin Palmer