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Barty dispatches Sharapova and Halep debuts with victory

Barty dispatches Sharapova and Halep debuts with victory
Australian No. 1 seed Ashleigh Barty made her Premier 5 tennis debut in Cincinnati with a comfortable 6-4, 6-1 win over Russia’s Maria Sharapova.

The victory was the second for Barty, the second player in the world, in the three duels he has had with the veteran Russian tennis player, once champion of the Cincinnati tournament, although this time he entered the main draw by invitation.

Barty’s triumph was one of a list of favorites that sprang into action in the morning session, including Romanian Simona Halep, reigning Wimbledon champion.

Halep, seeded fourth, was the one who had the most difficult passage to the round of 16 after having to play three sets before winning 3-6, 7-5 and 6-4 to the Russian Ekaterina Alexondrova.

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The Czech Karolina Pliskova, third seeded and winner of the tournament in the 2016 edition, had no problem to beat the Chinese Yafan Wang in two straight sets, 6-1 and 6-3.

Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, seventh seed, also easily beat Belgian Elise Mertens 6-4 6-1, while Ninth-seeded Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka won 6-4 6-3 at the Chinese Saisai Zheng.

The young Croatian Donna Vekic ended the hopes of the Belarusian Victoria Azarenka, champion of the tournament in 2013, to remain in the competition by beating her 6-2, 7-5.

Vekic’s next opponent, in the round of 16, will be another veteran, American Venus Williams, 39, who in the second round eliminated current tournament champion, fifth-seeded Dutch Kiki Bertens.

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While the young Swedish Rebecca Peterson, who reached the main draw in the previous phase, reached the round of 16 after beating the Russian Veronika Kudermetova 2-6, 7-5 and 6-2 and will have Pliskova as her next rival.

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