Ashleigh Barty outwits Maria Sharapova
Cincinnati: World number one Naomi Osaka and Wimbledon champion Simona Halep battled to three-set triumphs on Wednesday at the ATP and WTA Cincinnati Masters while top seed Ashleigh Barty ousted Maria Sharapova.
Reigning US and Australian Open champion Osaka needed more than two hours to outlast Aliaksandra Sasnovich 7-6 (7/3), 2-6, 6-2.
The Japanese star will next face a third-round match against Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei, who defeated American Jennifer Brady 7-6 (11/9) 6-3.
Osaka finally scored a win here at the US Open warm-up after losing in the first round a year ago.
“I was just trying to have fun,” Osaka said. “In the second set I was taking myself too seriously and was down on myself.
“Now I just want to have fun and enjoy it. That’s what I’m supposed to do.”
Osaka advanced with eight aces, 24 winners and breaks on four of five chances against an opponent who was treated on her right knee several times.
Australia’s Barty, 23, won the battle of former number one players in just over 90 minutes. The reigning Roland Garros champion beat five-time Grand Slam winner Sharapova, who was Cincinnati champion 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).
Barty said she remained focused after last week’s opening defeat in Toronto. “It was certainly no panic sessions after last week. I knew I was a little bit underdone going into Toronto and certainly had no worries or concerns there,” Barty said.
“I’ve been striking the ball really well over the last seven or eight days. I found my groove a little bit more. It took a little bit to adjust to conditions, but it was easy for me to swing out at the start.”