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Barty survives early scare to advance to Australian Open second round

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Barty: I don't think anyone could care less if an Aussie wins (0:48)

Ashleigh Barty downplays the symbolism of an Australian winning the Open in the wake of the bushfire crisis. (0:48)

MELBOURNE, Australia -- After 45 minutes of play on Rod Laver Arena, there was a genuine fear among locals that the Ash Barty party was going to be over before it had really begun.

World No. 120 Lesia Tsurenko had pocketed the first set 7-5 as the home hero struggled to find her rhythm, producing some uncharacteristically poor tennis.

Barty began the match with six unforced errors in the first 13 points and it was a trend which continued for the entirety of the first set, one in which she dropped serve on three occasions and never looked comfortable.

With fans using the two-minute break between sets to explore the possibility of the world No. 1 actually falling on opening day of her home Slam, Barty was busy in the chair composing her thoughts and resetting her mind. It worked. She returned to the court a different player.

The nervy figure who had been present during the opening set was gone and the hard-hitting, crafty version the world has become accustomed to seeing in the last 18 months was back.

Barty reeled off six of the next seven games in just 26 minutes to level the score at one set apiece. The match was well and truly back on her terms and fans could once again breathe easy.

The Queenslander then hit the front early in the deciding set after breaking Tsurenko and was then never troubled, eventually going on to record a 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 win to book her place in the second round.

"Nah, it's all good," Barty joked when asked about giving her masses of fans an early scare. "In the first set it was still in my control. I was just rushing points, trying to finish them too early.

"It was really nice to sort it out in the second set. I sharpened up and did what I had to do."

The turnaround after the first set was stark. Not only did Barty secure 12 of the next 14 games, the Australian also won 70 percent of points and made fewer unforced errors in the final two sets combined than she had in the first.

Barty won't know her second-round opponent until Polona Hercog and Rebecca Peterson, one of the many matches to be postponed on Day 1 due to ongoing rain, play Tuesday. The winner to face Barty on Wednesday.