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Ashleigh Barty cruises into 3rd round at Australian Open; Madison Keys also advances

Ashleigh Barty was front and center — albeit not for very long — when the Australian Open celebrated its inaugural First Nations Day.

The top-ranked Barty has Indigenous heritage, and her second-round match at Melbourne Park’s main stadium on Wednesday was among the features of a program dedicated to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia.

She was on and off the court quickly, defeating 142nd-ranked qualifier Lucia Bronzetti 6-1, 6-1 in 52 minutes.

“Really cool. … Nice for me to be a part of it in a way I feel most comfortable,” Barty said. “On a day when we’re bringing culture together … it was really nice for me to go out and enjoy that.

“I was really fortunate to be able to play today.”

Also Wednesday, American Madison Keys followed up her first-round upset of 11th-seeded Sofia Kenin with a 6-2, 7-5 triumph over Jaqueline Cristian.

Barty extended her streak of service holds to 48 games and moved into the third round at Melbourne Park for the sixth consecutive year.

The 2021 Wimbledon and 2019 French Open champion dropped just one game in her first-round match, which also took less than an hour, as she bids to become the first Australian woman since 1978 to win the country’s Grand Slam tournament.

Next up for Barty will be a match against another Italian, 30th-seeded Camila Giorgi. Win that, and Barty could end up in a fourth-round showdown versus defending champion Naomi Osaka.

In the day’s opening match on Rod Laver Arena, eighth-seeded Paula Badosa had a 6-0, 6-3 victory over Italian qualifier Martina Trevisan.

Badosa won the title at a Sydney tuneup tournament last week, when she put together back-to-back match wins in Australia for the first time.

Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka beat Jil Teichmann 6-1, 6-2 and and will next face No. 15-seeded Elina Svitolina, who was leading 6-3, 5-7, 5-1 when Harmony Tan retired from their second-round match.

Svitolina waited on court at Margaret Court Arena until Tan, who had received treatment on her lower left leg after the fifth game of the third set, was removed in a wheelchair.

“It’s always horrible when any athlete gets injured in competition. She played really well and she made it not easy for me,” Svitolina said. “I was a tough match. It’s tough to see a player going out like this.”

With her lower left leg heavily bandaged, the 24-year-old Tan couldn’t even move to the ball as Svitolina held serve. The ailing Frenchwoman reverted to serving underarm, hoping to be able to finish the match rather than retire.

Chair umpire Richard Haigh called on Tan to stop or risk doing more damage as she appeared to struggle with cramps in her right leg, too.

With her mother signaling from the grandstand for her to quit, Tan left the court in tears after a hug from Svitolina and sustained applause from the crowd. No. 21 Jessica Pegula beat fellow American Bernarda Pera 6-4, 6-4, and No. 26 Jelena Ostapenko took out Alison Riske 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.

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