Ash Barty has taken another step toward winning her home major. The top-seeded Australian beat Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia 6-2, 6-4 to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open for the third straight year.
Barty rallied from 4-2 down in the second set and broke Alexandrova’s serve to make it 4-all on her sixth break point. She then won 10 of the last 15 points to close out the match.
The 29th-seeded Alexandrova had beaten former Wimbledon champion Simona Halep and reigning French Open champion Iga Swiatek in a warm-up tournament last week.
Barty said she'd never played at tour-level without a crowd before Saturday’s match in Margaret Court Arena. She said in her on-court interview she liked the sound of striking the ball in the empty stadium. She added, “It feels a little bit like practice, so we’re pretty used to it.”
Barty next faces American Shelby Rogers for a chance to reach the quarterfinals.