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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, April 7, 2021

 
Ash Barty

Playing her first clay-court match since the 2019 Roland Garros final, Ash Barty burst through six straight games in a 6-2, 6-1 Charleston sweep of Misaki Doi.

Photo credit: Volvo Car Open Facebook

Fluent footwork and a stinging serve fueled Ash Barty through a smooth surface transition.

Playing her first clay-court match since she captured the 2019 Roland Garros final, Barty barely made a mis-step sweeping Misaki Doi 6-2, 6-1 to roll into the Charleston round of 16.

More: Davis Stuns Second-Seeded Kenin in Charleston

It was Barty's seventh straight win.

Four days after Barty beat Bianca Andreescu to successfully defend her Miami Open championship on hard court, she face a quick turnaround time that left her with just a few hours of practice on the Har-Tru Charleston clay often called green clay.




Devoid of dirt match play, Barty said she took the court with a simple goal: don't fall on your face while sliding.

Smooth movement, the varied pace of her topspin forehand and slice serve and the crackling serve that saw Barty swat seven aces, including dotting the T on match point, all helped the top-seeded Aussie maintained control. After dropping serve to start the second set, Barty surged through six straight games raising her 2021 record to 15-2.

"It was an adjustment period without a doubt," Barty told Tennis Channel's Steve Weissman afterward. "It was a very quick turnaround from Miami, just had a couple of hours of practice, so I was just honestly hoping that I didn't trip and fall over trying to slide.

"But it came back quite naturally so I'm really happy to be back here, particularly in Charleston, but back on the clay."

On a day in which world No. 79 Lauren Davis surprised second-seeded Sofia Kenin, Barty controlled play with her first serve and first strike winning 26 of 29 first-serve points.

Barty banged an ace to end the opening game.

The Roland Garros champion was outside the doubles alley when she spun a diagonal forehand winner in the fourth game. The left-handed Doi popped a 63 mph second serve into Barty's backhand wing holding to level after four games.

Impeccable timing and a smooth swing empower Barty to crack the balance when she's on balance. Barty picked up the pace, rapping a clean forehand down the line for a double break point. The two-time Miami champion probed the opposite sideline with a deep forehand coaxing an errant backhand to break for 4-2.

An unsettling aspect of the Aussie's game is her ability to mix spins and dramatically alter the heights of her shots. Barty can trampoline the kick serve off the clay, play heavier topspin to force her 5'3" opponent defend shoulder-high balls or bring the slithering slice to coax short replies. Sliding a slice down the line, Barty drew a wild reply breaking again to seal the 31-minute opening set.

The top seed started the second set with an uncharacteristically sloppy service game spitting up three double faults and scattering a forehand wide to gift the opening break.




The 29-year-old Doi is quick around the court, scrappy and can curl her lefty forehand into the corners. The Japanese lacks one potent weapon to truly trouble the elite, which is one reason why she's winless in 20 career matches vs. Top 10 opposition.

Given this was her first clay-court match she defeated Marketa Vondrousova 6-1, 6-3 in the 2019 Roland Garros final for her first Grand Slam and first clay crown, Barty should be pleased with her movement and her agility changing direction out of the corners of the court. Barty showed the burst getting up quickly to a drop shot and sliding back a reply that helped her hold in the fifth game.

Tennis Express

The owner of 10 WTA titles never looked back scalding her seventh ace down the T closing a 61-minute conquest in style.

"I think in my return game, I did particularly well and all for one service game I felt I really controlled my service game," Barty said. "It's nice to be back playing and I'm looking forward to the next one."

That will be a round of 16 clash against either the pride of Charleston, Shelby Rogers, or 2019 Roland Garros semifinalist Amanda Anisimova, whom Barty beat 6-7, 6-3, 6-3 en route to the French Open title.

Serena Williams was the last world No. 1 to win Charleston back in 2013. Barty will try to repeat the feat this week.

 

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