WILL EVANS’ daily preview serves up Australian Open tips for Ash Barty’s tricky first-up assignment against the experienced Lesia Tsurenko. 

Australian Open Tips – Ashleigh Barty V Lesia Tsurenko

12:00 (AEDT), Mon 17th Jan @ Melbourne Park

History: Played 3: Barty 2 V Tsurenko 1

Last meeting: Australian Open, 2020 (R128): Barty d Tsurenko 5-7 6-1 6-1

Final Thoughts: World No.1 Ashley Barty’s quest to become the first Aussie champ at the Australian Open in 44 years begins against experienced Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko.

The pair met in the first round of the Australian Open two years ago. Tsurenko threatened to snare a boilover victory by winning the first set, before Barty settled into her work with a 5-7 6-1 6-1 result. Tsurenko beat a green Barty in Acapulco back in 2014, while Barty won their only other clash in straight sets at the 2018 Brisbane International.

Barty made an impressive start to her 2022 season. Taking the court for the first time in four months, the 25-year-old powered to the Adelaide International title with wins over Coco Gauff, Sofia Kenin, Iga Swiatek and Elina Rybakina.

The 2019 French Open and 2021 Wimbledon champ reached the Australian Open quarters in 2019 and ’21 either side of a semi-final run in 2020. Barty has was 14 straight Grand Slam first-round matches, but she has made a habit of starting majors slowly. The Queenslander has dropped a set in four of her last six first-round fixtures at majors.

Meanwhile, world No.113 Tsurenko returns to the Grand Slam stage after a lengthy hiatus.

While she boasts some impressive Grand Slam results – including a US Open quarter-final appearance in 2018 – the 32-year-old’s Melbourne Park clash with Barty was her only main draw outing in the past nine majors.

The former top-25 player moved through the Australian Open qualifiers comfortably.

Barty’s serve was at its best in Adelaide. If that part of her game clicks, Tsurenko’s trademark powerful groundstrokes should be negated. Expect laser focus from the top seed and tournament favourite from the outset. More so than previous years since she has emerged as a frontline contender, the 2022 Australian Open is Barty’s to lose.

Tip: Games Handicap – Barty -7.5 @ $2.33

AUSTRALIAN OPEN TIPS

 MATCH-UP
Ajla Tomljanovic V Paula BadosaGames Handicap – Badosa -5 @ $1.85
Barbora Krejcikova V Andrea PetkovicGames Handicap – Petkovic +5.5 @ $2.00
Donna Vekic V Alison RiskeResult – Vekic @ $2.20