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Sunday August 1st, 2021 2:07PM

Barty, Osaka advance in Australian Open tuneups in 3 sets

By The Associated Press
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Ash Barty looked like the world No. 1 in the first set, then struggled the rest of the way against No. 52-ranked Marie Bouzkova before completing a 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 win in an Australian Open tuneup tournament on Wednesday.

In the third set, the 2019 French Open champion exchanged three service breaks early before breaking Bouzkova in the eighth game. She ended it with a service winner in the next game.

“Coming off a night match, I'm an early riser to I didn't get a lot of sleep last night," Barty said. “I felt in the middle of the match I pressed a little bit ... but I was happy to get the win on my terms at the end."

Barty will play American Shelby Rogers in the quarterfinals of the Yarra Valley Classic and could potentially face Serena Williams in the semifinals. Williams was playing Tsvetana Pironkova in a night match on Margaret Court Arena.

Defending Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin fended off fellow American Jessica Pegula 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 in a spirited comeback. Kenin was a set and 4-1 down to Pegula before making her revival. Kenin had 10 double faults, including five in the final set.

There were 89 matches scheduled at the Australian Open site on the middle day of a compressed week of six tournaments — including three WTA events and three for the men’s tour, including the ATP Cup. The match madness was because of a 14-day quarantine period for all Australian Open players on their arrival, forcing all warmup tournaments to be held in the week before the Feb. 8-21 first Grand Slam of the year.

OSAKA IN THREE

U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka advanced in the Gippsland Trophy, but also needed three sets after a slow start on what could easily be called Wild Wednesday at Melbourne Park.

She had a first-round bye and dropped only four games en route to her second-round win, so a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 win over No. 371-ranked Katie Boulter was a change of pace.

She didn't mind the extra work.

“Honestly I like playing long matches, just because I can gauge the condition of the court and I feel my fitness gets better,” Osaka said. “I played a shorter match yesterday, so maybe subconsciously I made myself play a long match today.”

No. 2 ranked Simona Halep had a more straight-forward 6-2, 6-4 win over Laura Siegemund.

Also advancing were third-seeded Elina Svitolina, who beat former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-2, and seventh-seeded Elise Mertens, who beat No. 12-seeded Caroline Garcia 7-6 (1), 6-3.

ITALY INTO ATP CUP SEMIS

Italy is the first team through to the ATP Cup semifinals after winning the first two singles matches against France. Fabio Fognini had a 6-1, 7-6 (2) win over Benoit Paire before Matteo Berrettini beat Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-2. Italy remains unbeaten and assured of topping Group C in the 12-team event following its 2-1 win over Austria on Tuesday. In Wednesday’s other matches, Germany beat Canada 2-0 in the other early match. Jan-Lennard Struff beat Milos Raonic 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2) and Alexander Zverev held off Denis Shapovalov 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-6 (4). Canada was coming off an opening loss to defending champion Serbia and now can't make the semifinals.

Germany will play Novak Djokovic's Serbia squad for first place in Group A on Thursday.

___

More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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