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03 March 2024

Barty cruises, fireworks anticipated for Kyrgios and Nadal clash

Photo: AFP


Ashleigh Barty's bid to become the first woman since Serena Williams in 2015 to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year stayed on track with a 6-1, 6-3 second round victory over Belgium's Alison van Uytvanck on Thursday.

The 23-year-old Australian world number one will play either British wild card Harriet Dart or Brazilian qualifier Beatriz Haddad Maia for a place in the last 16.

"I had to make a lot of returns first and foremost and then try and nullify her variety a little bit," she said.

Barty, who if she achieves the Roland Garros-Wimbledon double will be only the eighth woman to do so, said she would switch off from tennis for the moment.

"I'm sure there's some cricket on or something," she said in reference to the ongoing World Cup in England where Australia have made the semi-finals.

Barty seized the initiative from the outset on Thursday breaking Van Uytvanck, who had eliminated 2017 champion Garbine Muguruza in the second round of last year's tournament, twice in succession.

She repeated that in the second set and although the 25-year-old Belgian broke Barty when she served for the match, the Australian made no mistake when presented with a match point on her opponent's serve in the following game.

Also easing through was 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens who took the first eight games against her Chinese opponent Wang Yafan before winning 6-0, 6-2.

Stephens, seeded nine, will play either British 19th seed Johanna Konta or Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic in the next round.

They were merely the appetisers for the highly-charged men's singles second round match later on Thursday on Centre Court between two-time champion Rafael Nadal and fiery but talented Australian Nick Kyrgios.

Kyrgios, who stunned the Spaniard when ranked 144th and aged 19 he beat him in 2014, and Nadal have exchanged words earlier this season with Nadal accusing the Australian of lacking respect.

Also on the programme is eight-time champion Roger Federer, looking for a more convincing display than his opening round four-setter, up against British wild card Jay Clarke.

It wll be asking a lot of Clarke to emulate Tim Henman, the only other Briton to beat the Swiss at Wimbledon back in 2001 in the quarter-finals.

Home fans appetites will be sated when former world number one Andy Murray plays in the men's doubles - months after 'life-changing hip surgery' - with French partner Pierre-Hugues Herbert against Marius Copil of Romania and Herbert's compatriot Ugo Humbert.

Murray's mixed doubles partner Serena Williams will also be in action facing Slovenian qualifier Kaja Juvan.