German qualifier Mona Barthel defeated Australian wild card Destanee Aiava 6-3, 7-6 (4) to reach the second round of the 2017 Australian Open. Aiava was the youngest player in the draw at just 16 years old.
Barthel overcomes early pressure to take first set
Playing without fear, it was Aiava who had the first break chances of the match right away, but Barthel was able to save both to hang on to her serve. Each player would hold over the next four games combined, which saw the German take a 3-2 lead.
The decisive moment in the set occurred in the sixth game. Barthel had her first break chance of the match, saved well by the Australian teenager, but when a second chance arose, the German wasn't going to let it pass her by again and when Aiava missed a crosscourt backhand into the net, she broke for a 4-2 lead.
Both players held comfortably to finish out the set and as a result, Barthel took the opener by a score of 6-3 in 38 minutes.
Barthel squanders first chance to win match, takes second opportunity in tiebreaker
Both players were in a good rhythm on serve, although Barthel pushed Aiava to deuce at 1-1 before the Aussie held to keep her nose in front. She'd get to deuce on the German's serve in the sixth game, but could make no further progression.
Finally, at 4-4, Barthel broke for the second time in the match after a costly double-fault by Aiava and this time, she'd have a chance to end the encounter as she served for the match. Aiava didn't go quietly and after saving a match point, she broke back when Barthel threw in her own double fault on break point to knot up the set at 5-5.
After each player exchanged easy holds, the set went to a tiebreak. Barthel took charge right away, capitalizing on a rash of errors from Aiava, jumping out to a 4-0 lead and never looking back, despite the 16-year old gaining two minibreaks back. Finally, on her third match point, she drew a backhand error from Aiava to seal the win and advance to the second round and a matchup with 29th seed Monica Puig.
Aiava had seven double faults, many of them coming at key points in the match. She was only 1/4 on break points and committed 38 unforced errors to Barthel's 24. The German was a stellar 12/17 at the net and won 76% of her first serve points.