Ash Barty lets rip with a forehand against Serena Williams on Rod Laver Arena. Photo: Pat Scala
They were there for the experience. That's what they got. Ash Barty got to spend just 51 minutes on court and won just three games, but got an up-close look at what make Serena Williams so hard to beat.
Jordan Thompson's match lasted more than three hours, and went for five sets. The 19-year-old lost, but only after he took the first two sets from No.20 seed Jerzy Janowicz, and got within range of what would have been a huge upset.
Barty didn't just want to find out what Serena was like, she wanted to find out what she could be like against the top seed, who hasn't looked like losing a match in months.
Serena Williams celebrates her win over Ash Barty. Photo: Pat Scala
The 17-year-old tried things. She went for her shots. She saved a set-point in the first set with a bold back hand across the court. She made it clear that Serena had seen her play, and liked what she had seen enough to play as ruthlessly as she could.
Still, she was playing the best player in the world, who took the first set with her very next set point, 6-2, and needed only 26 minutes to finish the job against a player who was only three years old when she won the first of her 17 slams.
Thompson won the first two sets 6-1, 6-4, against an at-times irritated opponent. But Janowicz is a player on the up - he made last year's Wimbledon semis - and was able to get himself going, and gradually take over.
Australian young gun Jordan Thompson during his match against Jerzy Janowicz. Photo: Pat Scala
As he settled, Thompson started to struggle: to break serve, then to hold serve, then to win games and points. He was able to compile just seven games in the last three sets. The loss ended an excellent month for the Sydney teenager, who will move inside the top 300.
But that his next tournament will be in Burnie - back on the challenger circuit - meant he was disappointed he couldn't make force his first Australian Open to last a little longer.
''I'm pretty disappointed. I'll probably look at the positives tomorrow,'' Thompson said. ''It's probably some of the best tennis I've played. Those guys that I played in the top 100, they're pretty consistent. Maybe [Janowicz] didn't start off the best today, especially the first set, but his level never dropped. It's tough for me to keep the same level the whole time. But I think I did it well for three sets.''