Barty, Gavrilova to cast friendship aside

There will be no room for sentiment at the Open when Ash Barty takes on Daria Gavrilova.
There will be no room for sentiment at the Open when Ash Barty takes on Daria Gavrilova.

The perfectionist in Ash Barty yearns for more - and that could spell huge trouble for Daria Gavrilova's Australian Open hopes.

Barty and Gavrilova - or Ash and Dash - go head to head in a blockbuster all-Australian second-round showdown at Melbourne Park on Thursday.

There'll be no room for sentiment, with friendships placed on hold as the pair fight for a place in the last 32 of their home grand slam.

Not even a ruthless 6-0 6-0 first-round victory over Danka Kovinic was enough to satisfy Barty.

On a mission to end Australia's 43-year women's title drought in Melbourne, the world No.1 says "everything" in her game can improve entering her fifth career meeting with Gavrilova.

"I want to challenge myself to be the complete player," Barty said.

"I want to challenge myself to grow and develop every single day, both as a human and as a tennis player.

"So regardless of what happens on any given night, we wake up the next day and go back to work and try and get better again."

Barty has been better than Gavrilova in three of their four previous encounters.

But there was a time when Gavrilova ruled.

The former world junior No.1 held the mantle as Australian No.1 for 17 weeks before relinquishing it to Barty in on October 23, 2017.

Barty holds great respect for the 26-year-old, and is wary of Gavrilova, particularly given her Russian-born rival used to have the world No.1's coach Craig Tyzzer in her own corner.

"Obviously Dasha and I, we've been Fed Cup teammates for a long time now. We know each other well," Barty said.

"Tyz obviously coached Dasha for a couple of years we spend a lot of time together.

"So it will be a challenge. I always enjoy testing myself against other Aussies. It will be a ripper."

Unbeaten in five matches since making her return from a year out of tennis only this month, Barty is not overly surprised at her supreme level so early in her comeback.

"I know deep down my team and I have done the work. We've earned the right to play at this level," the 24-year-old said.

"There's always a little bit of the unknown at the start of a season, particularly after such a long break, of what that level might be, knowing there's every chance it's not going to be exactly where we want it straight away."

Gavrilova is still in the early stages of her own comeback from a year-long layoff with a crippling foot injury.

The 26-year-old needed a wildcard into the Open, with her ranking having slumped to 387th in the world from a career-high 20th.

Barty and Gavrilova are among seven Australians in action on Thursday.

Alex de Minaur, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Alexei Popyrin, Chris O'Connell and Samantha Stosur are vying for spots in the last 32.

AUSSIES IN ACTION AT THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN ON THURSDAY (PREFIX DENOTES SEEDING):

Women's singles, second round

1-Ash Barty v Daria Gavrilova

Samantha Stosur v Jessica Pegula (USA)

Men's singles, second round

21-Alex de Minaur v Pablo Cuevas (URU)

Thanasi Kokkinakis v 5-Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)

Alexei Popyrin v Lloyd Harris (RSA)

Chris O'Connell v Radu Albot (MDA)

Australian Associated Press