Australian Open 2021 - 'Shell-shocked' Ash Barty was 'absolutely falling apart' in win - Expert view
Top seed Ash Barty did not look herself in her second-round victory over fellow Australian Daria Gavrilova on Rod Laver Arena, but she still managed to fight her way through. Eurosport analyst Annabel Croft is convinced that Barty will now go away and get her mind right after what was a real struggle for the 24-year-old.
Australia's Ashleigh Barty wipes her face between the games against Australia's Daria Gavrilova during their women's singles match on day four of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne
The world number one really struggled to find any form in what was a very scrappy performance. Her thigh was heavily strapped with movement clearly an issue.
Fortunately for Barty, who will feel lucky to have battled through, her compatriot Gavrilova had endured a 13-month foot injury layoff until September and entered the tournament with just three appearances under her belt since the comeback.
Eurosport expert Annabel Croft reflected on the match and suspected that Barty, who herself had 12 months off after last year's tournament at Melbourne Park, may be headed straight for the practice courts to get her head right after a match to forget, while Gavrilova will be gutted she did not capitalise and cause a big upset.
"She [Gavrilova] will know, and she will be kicking herself," Croft said on commentary for Eurosport.
"She really did have opportunities [to win], if ever there were some, to go up against the world number one, who was absolutely falling apart at the other end.
'She'll be kicking herself' - Gavrilova gutted after not beating Barty
"She just wasn't able to take those opportunities - she's still shaking her head. That tells its own story.
I don't think Barty is going to be feeling too great about things. She looks a little shell-shocked, to be honest.
"It wouldn't surprise me if she headed straight to the practice courts to try to get rid of some of that tension and sleep on it having whacked a few balls about.
"You want to come off court feeling great, and that was anything but that."
'Shambles!' - Barty gets crowd to sing in post-match interview
Barty was much more bullish herself and said with a smile that she was, "fit as a fiddle", despite the heavy strapping on her thigh.
"It's so nice to see her [Gavrilova] back," she said post-match. "She's had a bit of a tricky run with injury over the last 18 months or so. It's nice to see her back out here and competing.
"It's just trying to be the best I can be every single day whatever that level is. Just making sure that I apply myself as best I can so I can walk off the court with my head held high.
"Having 12 months off is a little bit rusty but I'm certainly happy with how I've been able to fight through the last couple of weeks.
I'm fit as a fiddle, I'm good to go. It's been nice to get some matches and my general form is good.
Highlights: Barty tested by Gavrilova but comes through