Barty on brink of best slam result
AS the sun went down, Ash Barty only turned up the heat.
For the second time in three days she had to do it the hard way, but Barty is through to the third round of the Australian Open for the second successive year after overcoming Camila Giorgi 5-7 6-4 6-1 on Rod Laver Arena.
After copping an erant Viktor Troicki ball to the head late in Nick Kyrgios' match on Hisense Arena the night before, umpire James Keothavong was back in the chair for a primetime game involving an Aussie.
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But it was Barty who spared the host nation an even bigger headache by ensuring Australia has one female singles representative in the last 32 after Daria Gavrilova and Olivia Rogowska crashed out on Wednesday.
Not that it always appeared as if that was going to be the case.
Ranked No.71 compared to Barty's No.17, Giorgi wasn't tipped to cause the Australian any dramas on the big stage.
But her ranking belies the big-hitting Italian's talent - she made the Sydney International semi-finals last week - and it showed during a first set in which she took hold of proceedings and forced Barty into retreat.
But, as she did against the shrieking Aryna Sabalenka on Tuesday night, 21-year-old Barty found a way home, getting over some second set yips on serve to run out a commanding victor in the third.
"It could have been a pretty sticky match, it was very tough, but it was nice to get through," Barty said on court post-match.
"I'd like to not lose a first set all the time and get off the court, but it's nice to work my way through."
While the shade had provided the players some mercy from the sun, the temperature gauge still read a staggering 38.7 degrees when the match started shortly after 7pm and was still hovering above 34 when it concluded a little more than two hours later.
Barty, on a stunning comeback to Grand Slam tennis, made the third round last year.
But she has every chance of bettering that feat on Saturday when she takes on Japanese world No.72 Naomi Osaka.
Adding to the tumultuous nature of this side of the draw, Osaka knocked out Russian 16th seed Elena Vesnina in straight sets earlier in the Thursday heat.
On the horizon also awaits a potential fourth round match-up with world No.1 Simona Halep, who defeated Canada's Eugenie Bouchard 6-2 6-2 on Margaret Court Arena while Barty was playing Giorgi.