MELBOURNE, Jan 20 (Reuters) - World number one Ash Barty made a stuttering start to her bid to end the host nation’s 42-year wait for an Australian Open champion before rallying to beat Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko 5-7 6-1 6-1 on Rod Laver Arena on Monday.
The French Open champion arrived at Melbourne Park on a high after winning her first WTA title on home soil at the Adelaide International on Saturday but was brought down to earth in a topsy-turvy opening set featuring five breaks of serve.
Tsurenko, who beat Barty in their only previous meeting in Brisbane two years ago, belied her ranking of 120th in the world but it was the Australian top seed’s 19 unforced errors that did the most damage.
Barty, though, tidied up her game, rediscovered her touch and levelled up the contest with a thumping ace before racing away with the decider to set up a second-round meeting with Rebecca Peterson or Polona Hercog. (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Alison Williams)