World number one Ashleigh Barty survived a scare yesterday before battling through her opening match at the Adelaide International to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in three tough sets.
The top seed, who had a bye in the first round at Memorial Drive, faced a struggle to get past her experienced Russian opponent 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 and book a place in the quarter-finals.
The Australian was joined in the last eight by second seed Simona Halep, who made her 2020 competitive debut with a 6-4, 7-5 defeat of Ajla Tomljanovic.
Halep is back with Adelaide coach Darren Cahill after his family leave during 2019, and the Romanian said getting through the opening match of the season is an annual challenge.
“It was a tough match but I expected that, since I’ve played her twice before. I’m very happy to go through. Training cannot compare with actually playing.
“I got a bit tired in the second set and I’ll have to keep up my level for the next match.”
Barty said she got comfortable as she scored her first season win after losing her opening match last week in Brisbane.
The 23-year-old is looking for crucial court time before the Australian Open starts next Monday in Melbourne.
“I was able to play, my style and control a bit more in the third set,” the Australian said.
“No matter what the score is, I try and hang around for the whole match every time.
Barty went up a double break of serve up in the deciding third set, but lost the edge as Pavlyuchenkova levelled at 5-all.
But the 31st-ranked Russian, who now stands 3-3 in their head-to-head, lost her own serve on a forehand wide as Barty took a 6-5 lead and closed out the win a game later after two hours, 10 minutes.