Barty’s quirky one-liner after thrashing

 

Ash Barty absolutely pulverised her British opponent in another Wimbledon demolition job as she made her first appearance on Centre Court as the world's top ranked player one to remember.

The Aussie superstar blitzed her way past local wildcard Harriet Dart 6-1 6-1 in only 53 minutes to stroll into the fourth round at the All England Club as she aims to win a second straight grand slam after claiming her maiden major singles title at the French Open last month.

Barty's latest victory and Serena Williams' triumph over Julia Goerges mean the pair are on track to meet in the quarter-finals if they both win their round of 16 matches.

After her win, Barty cracked up reporters by dropping a line about seaweed from The Little Mermaid song Under the Sea in response to a question about how she decides what shots to play given she's got everything in her repertoire.

"I think for me sometimes I look at a shot, I play a shot, I think the seaweed is always greener in someone else's lake," she said as everyone in the interview room laughed. "I try and think of how else I can win the point.

"Really, I just need to go about it, be really simple, make up my mind, pick my spot, hit it, and try and bring a very simple mindset and have this real clarity around how I want to play, but also knowing I have the ability to adapt and play a different shot if I need to."

Barty also said it was a special occasion to strut her stuff on Centre Court and is determined to maintain her winning ways.

"It was incredible walking out there … a really special moment walking out onto court," Barty said. "One of the best tennis courts in the world. Privileged to be able to play on it.

"No matter whether I win a match or lose a match, I'm still extremely hungry and driven to try to do well, to try and grow and develop as a player and a person, trying to take as much as I can from every single match, learn from every single match, then keep going forward and keep striving to be better.

"I'm just trying to do the best to pave my own path and enjoy my journey."

The Royal Box was, aptly, filled with tennis royalty on Middle Saturday and while the likes of Billie Jean King and Rod Laver would no doubt have loved what they saw from Barty, Dart wasn't able to give the supportive local crowd much to cheer about.

She was powerless to stop the Queenslander charging through the first set, but at least managed to salvage a consolation game as she succumbed 6-1 in just 25 minutes.

If the Brits were hoping for a stirring revival from their star they were left disappointed - but they were treated to a tennis masterclass from Australia's newest golden girl.

Barty barely appeared to raise a sweat as she ran her opponent ragged with pinpoint ground strokes and a clinical serving performance to ensure a close contest was never on the cards. Dart never stood a chance as Barty sent down 11 aces, won 92 per cent of points on her first serve, produced 23 winners and made just six unforced errors.

As the match wore on the cheers got louder for every point Dart was able to steal from the world No. 1. A cry of "come on, Harriet" rang out after a Barty slice went long and, sensing they wouldn't get much of an opportunity to clap late in the second set, fans broke out into rapturous applause when the hometown hero won the next point too.

The occasion seemed to be getting to Dart as she suffered from serving yips. One of five double faults saw her surrender a lead when down 0-4 in the second as Barty fought her way back to 30-30.

A huge groan was heard across the most iconic stage in tennis but as a visibly upset Dart looked to compose herself by bouncing a ball on the ground with her racquet behind the baseline, the crowd realised her pain and responded with a touching gesture.

Those groans were replaced seconds later by roars of encouragement as each side of the stadium picked up on the need to raise Dart's morale. The applause reached a crescendo just before she stepped up to serve again and were as loud as anything we'd heard in the set.

Amid the calls of support for Dart, one brave visitor bucked the trend by letting rip with a "Let's go Ashleigh!" much to the amusement of the crowd, which chuckled with laughter with the score at 4-1. "I'm the only Aussie!"

British hopes rose when Dart had multiple break points but she was unable to convert and Barty stretched her lead to 5-1 before closing things out with a break of her own.

Barty has now extended her unbeaten streak to 15 matches and has won 20 consecutive sets.

While the locals in attendance were sad to see Dart's dream crushed, they gave Barty a standing ovation and boisterous applause as she soaked up her victory on the most famous grass in tennis.

Barty plays Alison Riske in the next round.



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