Barty roars backs to make winning start in Melbourne


Melbourne (AFP)

World number one and home hope Ashleigh Barty suffered a scare before powering into the second round of the Australian Open on Monday.

The 23-year-old recovered from a slow start to see off Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 under the roof at a partisan and wet Melbourne.

Barty, under huge pressure to deliver a home women's champion for the first time since Chris O'Neil in 1978, plays Polona Hercog of Slovenia or Sweden's Rebecca Peterson next.

Barty, who joked on the eve of her opener that she was sick of seeing her picture everywhere, is the face of the first Grand Slam of the year.

A nation expects, and Barty said after dismissing the 120th-ranked Ukrainian that she had always felt in control, despite the indifferent start.

"It's all good, it's amazing to be back out here," said the Australian, fresh from winning her first title on home soil, in Adelaide, on Saturday.

"Really nice to sort it out a little bit at the start of the second set and sharpen up."

She described the support in the Rod Laver Arena as "absolutely incredible" and said she had been looking forward to playing there.

"I couldn't wait to walk out here... thank you, guys," she said to cheers.