By Toby Davis
LONDON (Reuters) – Having dropped only two sets in her last 15 matches, Ash Barty’s opponents are getting used to her exhibiting a streak of near fiendish brutality.
Harriet Dart, the 182nd-ranked Briton, was her 15th consecutive victim – gathering only two games in a 6-1 6-1 defeat at Wimbledon on Saturday that sent the world number one into the last 16.
With enough menace to leave any prospective future opponents twitching uncomfortably in front of their televisions, Barty made mincemeat of Dart, wrapping up victory by winning the 20th consecutive set of a remarkable run of dominance.
The Australian has not dropped a set since the French Open semi-finals, where she clinched her first Grand Slam title last month, and looks in no rush to relinquish the number one spot in women’s tennis that so many others have found too hot to handle.
Her predecessor as number one Naomi Osaka said the summit came with intolerable stress.
Yet for Barty, who says her three-year-old niece has been imploring her to aim for “infinity and beyond”, reaching the top is viewed as a stepping stone rather than an end destination.
“I’m still extremely hungry and driven to try to do well, to try and grow and develop as a player and a person, trying to take as much as I can from every single match, learn from every single match, then keep going forward and keep striving to be better,” she said after dismissing Dart in 53 minutes.
The win put her into the last 16 at Wimbledon for the first time in a period of a her career when milestones are being achieved on an almost daily basis.
Having won her first Grand Slam title in Paris, she became the first woman to win Roland Garros and a grasscourt tournament in the same season since Justine Henin 12 years ago when she triumphed in Birmingham last month.
She was then seeded number one at a major for the first time at Wimbledon and made her debut as a singles player on the All England Club’s hallowed Centre Court on Saturday.
She was a heavy favourite to prevail against Dart, who was making only her third Grand Slam main draw appearance and had been managing an ankle injury since she took a first-round tumble.
The Britain, who was jettisoned by mixed doubles partner Jay Clarke for American teenager Cori Gauff, was broken twice in a first set that flashed by in 25 minutes and three more times in the second.
“I kept the foot down and I was able to stay in control of most games,” said Barty, who will play American Alison Riske in the next round.
(Reporting by Toby Davis, editing by Ed Osmond)