Cincinnati: Top seed Ashleigh Barty brushed aside Maria Sharapova in straight sets in her Cincinnati Open tennis tournament match while Simona Halep also reached the third round.
Australia’s Ashleigh Barty, 23, won the battle of former No. 1 players 6-4, 6-1 in just over 90 minutes Wednesday.
The reigning Roland Garros champion beat five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova, who was the champion here in 2011, for the second time this season after a win at the Australian Open.
It was Barty’s 40th victory of 2019 and she goes on to face Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, who beat Polish teenager Iga Swiatek 6-4, 7-6 (7/2).
“I did a really good job, especially in winning some of the crucial games,” the Australian said. “I love this time of year, getting back onto the hard courts and back to the summer here.”
Barty recovered after going down an early break to claim the opening set, before breaking Sharapova twice in the second to secure victory. The winner fired 18 winners, breaking Maria Sharapova four times as the Russian made 31 unforced errors.
Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, seeded fourth, earned a late break in the penultimate game of the final set to beat Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 after two hours on court.
The Romanian has finished runner-up in Cincinnati three times, last reaching the final a year ago against Kiki Bertens.
“It was a very, very tough match,” Halep said. “She (Alexandrova) played well, hitting the ball very strong. “Mentally, it was tough to return for me at the start after playing injured last week. But I didn’t have pain, which is good. It took time to get a rhythm and then do something on court.”
Halep went up a break in the third set, before letting the lead slip, only for the 43rd-ranked Alexandrova to serve two straight double faults and fall 4-5 behind. Halep completed her fightback on a second match point a game later.
World No. 3 Karolina Pliskova beat China’s Wang Yafan 6-1, 6-3, while seventh seed Elina Svitolina, a semifinalist four years ago, advanced past Belgian Elise Mertens 6-4, 6-1.
In the men’s draw, fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas saved three match points but still lost to Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4, 6-7(5/7), 7-6 (8/6).
In other men’s matches played on the days Kei Nishikori lost to fellow Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka 6-7(2/7), 4-6 while Ninth seed Daniil Medvedev, the losing finalist to Rafael Nadal in Montreal last weekend, eased past Benoit Paire 7-6 (7/2), 6-1 and will next face Struff.
France’s Richard Gasquet, who ended Andy Murray’s comeback singles tournament in the first round, saw off Argentine Federico Delbonis 7-5, 7-6 (7/1).