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MELBOURNE, Australia – Local hope Ashleigh Barty is the first player to reach the fourth round at the Australian Open – and she’s done so for the first time in her career after edging Maria Sakkari in two sets.

Barty, the No.15 seed, was tested by the rising Greek star Sakkari, especially in the close opening set, but she aced the challenge to win 7-5, 6-1 in an hour and 20 minutes.

With the victory, Barty continues her upward trajectory to reach back-to-back Grand Slam fourth rounds after last year’s US Open run. The 22-year-old is also the first Australian woman to reach this stage since Daria Gavrilova in 2017.

Read more: Barty bests Wang to soar into Australian Open third round

After claiming the biggest title of her career at the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai at the end of 2018, Barty has showed no signs of slowing down in the new season. She started the year with her second-straight appearance at the Sydney International final, and in Melbourne she’s needed just 122 minutes combined to power into the third round.

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