World Number 1 Ash Barty and 12-ranked Swiss star Belinda Bencic have received straight byes into the quarter-finals of WTA, Adelaide, which kicked off on Sunday.
British tennis star Johanna Konta and Belgian Elise Mertens will also launch the campaign in the tournament’s last eight, according to the draw released by the women’s tennis body.
Going into the Australian Open as the top-seed and the home favorite, Barty made short work of her opponents on the way to reaching the quarters.
However, after winning the opening set in the last-eight clash against Czech star Karolina Muchova, the Australian lost the next two to go out of the tournament.
Barty will go into the Adelaide event as the defending champion, having beaten Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine 6-2, 7-5 to clinch the title last year.
But it was still a remarkable performance considering how she missed the entire stretch of the shortened women’s tour last year owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bencic’s campaign at Melbourne Park ended in the 3rd round this year as she was trounced in straight sets by Mertens. The Swiss fell in the quarter-finals of the Adelaide International last year, losing to American Danielle Collins 3-6, 1-6.
The Round-of-32 in the tournament this year will feature some absorbing battles, involving, among others, the reigning French Open champion Iga Swiatek as well as former World Number 1 and Grand Slam champion Samantha Stosur.
Also in the fray in the event’s fourth round is 72nd-ranked Australian Ajla Tomljanovic, who gave a massive scare to World Number 2 Simona Halep before losing in the second-round encounter at Melbourne Park this year.
Halep eventually went out in the quarter-final, losing 3-6, 3-6 to the 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams.
In notable results on the opening day of the tournament, American Christina McHale beat Ivana Popovic of Australia to progress to the second round, while Japanese Misaki Doi dumped crowd favorite Arina Rodionova out of the tournament in straight sets.
American teen sensation Coco Gauff is slated to open her campaign against Francesca Jones of Great Britain later on Sunday.