No player is unbeatable, but by the looks of five-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams in her 6-2 6-1 win over Australian teenager Ashleigh Barty on Monday night, it’s going to take an extraordinary effort to stop the American in the next fortnight at Melbourne Park.
The 17-year-old Barty gave it her all and at times wowed the crowd with her blossoming talent, but over the course of the 57-minute match, Williams proved to be too powerful and just too good.
Williams finished the match with 31 winners to just five from her foe and only committed 17 unforced errors while forcing her Barty into nine, an impressive plus-23 differential.
Williams won all 20 of her first serve points, never faced a break point on her serve, and also returned aggressively, breaking Barty five times.
The 32-year-old Williams also used the occasion to incorporate more net rushing into her attack and while there were not many headstrong charges, she did convert 10 of 11 attempts.
“It’s just something I think I need to do, I've been doing it for a while,” Williams said.
“In my mind I've been at the net, but now I'm physically going there a little more. My next match, I might stay at the baseline the whole time. It's nothing I'm permanently working on. I'm just trying to have fun and do what I want to do out there.”
The 17-time Grand Slam champion says while she believes that she can be effective around the cords, she could change her strategy in future matches and revert back to primarily being an inside the baseliner.
Barty did show off an impressive inside-out forehand, quick feet and a biting backhand slice, but admitted later that Williams’ aura could be little blinding.
“She just has that presence on court that makes you want to probably push that little bit harder, gives you a bit of pressure,” Barty said.
“It was a good experience … I'm looking forward to watching the tape again and seeing what really happened. It was just awesome to have the opportunity to play against her tonight. I learned a few things. It's going to be a really good experience for me moving forward.”
Williams likes Barty’s potential, saying that one day she could become an elite player.
“I like her a lot. She's so young. You know, I'd like to see her do really well. I think she has a game to do really well,” Williams said.
With her 59th win in Melbourne, Williams only rails the great Australian Margaret Court (60) for the most wins at the site in the Open Era.
She will face young Serbian Vesna Dolonc in the next round.