Australian Open 2020: Crowd favourite Ash Barty bounces back from first-set stumble

World No.1 Ash Barty felt the result was never in doubt, as she recovered from a first-set stumble to steam to an Australian Open first-round win.

The packed crowd at Rod Laver Arena held their collective breath on Monday night, as Barty dropped the first set against Ukrainian veteran Lesia Tsurenko, but Barty insisted she was in full control.

And she certainly looked it in the remaining two sets, responding in ruthless fashion to run away with a 5-7 6-1 6-1 victory.

The 23-year-old, who is bidding for her first title at Melbourne Park, was the only Australian to book a victory in a rain-interrupted day one.

"I think, in the first set, it was still in my control," Barty said. "I think I was pressing a little bit early and I made a few too many errors, but I was able to tighten the screws in the second set and run away with it."

Tsurenko put up a strong challenge, given she'd hardly played in the past year, due to an elbow injury, which saw her ranking slump from a career-high world No.23 to 120.

The pair traded  breaks through the first set, although Barty only showed her frustration once, remonstrating with her box, as Tsurenko served to wrap it up.

"I was frustrated that I wasn't hitting the ball in the court when I wanted to," Barty said.

"I think I was aiming for big targets and missing by quite a bit, which I wasn't comfortable with, so being able to kind of rectify that and fix that so quickly at the start of the second set was really important."

Barty's fightback has become a trademark. Last year, she racked up an unrivalled 13 victories from a set down, en route to her No.1 status and French Open crown.

"Knowing that I've come back from being a set down in many matches is good, although I'd prefer not to be in that situation," Barty said.

Playing in her first home major as the world's top-ranked player, Barty felt she was handling the extra attention and pressure well.

Her previous best performance at the Open came last year, when she made the quarter-finals.

"[Grand] Slams always feel like there's a lot of chaos going, because there's so many people," she said.

"When you're able to separate that from when you step on the court is when you can do a little bit better, play a little bit better, feel a little bit more comfortable.

"I feel like we've been able to do that better and better with each Slam that I've played - I feel like I'm doing it the best way that I know how.

"It's an experience thing. You have to learn how to deal with it, but it's getting better."

Meanwhile, former Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki has kept the flame flickering on an unlikely second Slam to end her career, storming into the second round.

The 29-year-old Dane, who will retire from the sport at the end of the tournament, powered past US world No.92 Kristie Ahn 6-1 6-3 in her Melbourne Park opener.

Wozniacki, unseeded at the Open for the first time since 2008, after slipping to world No.36, was at her consistent best, finishing with only 11 unforced errors to Ahn's 34.

Rain momentarily halted her progression into the last 64 at 4-3 in the second set on Margaret Court Arena.

With the roof closed, Wozniacki held serve easily, before breaking the American for a fifth time to close out the match in 1h 25m.

Wozniacki, who memorably beat Simona Halep in a marathon final in 2018 to break her Grand Slam hoodoo, said the brief break in play elevated her anxiety, as the finish-line approached.

"I got a little nervous in the end," she said afterwards. "I just wanted to close it off.

"Once the roof came on, it felt like I relaxed a little bit. I took some time in between points and was able to finish that one off."

Wozniacki will now meet either 23rd-seeded Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska or Slovenian qualifier Kaja Juvan, and is not discounting a deep run at her final major.

"I hope so," she said, when asked if she had another six wins in her. "I'm going to do my best to go all the way.

"For now, it's one down and six to go. I'm ready for it."

Elsewhere, women's seeds mostly shone on a gloomy Monday in Melbourne.

Searching for a long-awaited 24th Grand Slam title to equal Margaret Court's record, Serena Williams discarded Czech teenager Anastasia Potapova 6-0 6-3 in just 58 minutes.

Naomi Osaka also got her Australian Open defence off to an impressive start, with a 6-2 6-4 victory over rising young Czech Marie Bouzkova.

Beaten by Osaka in a nail-biting final last year, Petra Kvitova reduced countrywoman Katerina Siniakova to tears late in the second set, conceding just one game as she won 6-1 6-0.

Fourteenth-seeded US star Sofia Kenin made short work of Italian Martina Trevisan, with a 6-2 6-4 victory.

Croatian Petra Martic, seeded one spot higher than Kenin, handed American Christina McHale a 6-3 6-0 beating.

On court 19, 25th-seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova had a tougher time.

The Russian was pushed to a deciding set by Swiss Jil Teichmann, but triumphed 6-4 4-6 6-2, before play on outside courts was suspended, as a large downpour settled in over Melbourne Park.

American 24th seed Sloane Stephens was up a set and a break, before crumbling to a 2-6 7-5 6-2 loss to unseeded Zhang Shuai from China.