Barty, Williams advance at Wimbledon

World No. 1 and top seed Ashleigh Barty cruised Tuesday in her opening match at Wimbledon, topping Saisai Zheng of China 6-4, 6-2 in 75 minutes.
Barty has won 13 straight matches, which includes two tournament victories: the French Open and the Nature Valley Classic at Birmingham, England.
Barty is now 4-0 against Zheng.
“I’ve had some very tough matches against Saisai in the past,” Barty said. “… Always a challenge — one I enjoy playing. She brings so much variety to the court, as well.”
If she felt the pressure as the newly crowned World No. 1, Barty didn’t show it.
She won 86 percent of the points on her first serve and converted three of her six break-point opportunities. She also had 20 unforced errors to 24 from Zheng.
And she had a carefree attitude.
“Kind of came into it thinking kind of like ‘hakuna matata,’ just relax and go for it,” Barty added. “Really nice to come in here, get stuck into that first match.”
Next up for Barty will be Alison van Uytvanck of Belgium, who defeated two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.
“I’ve played Alison before on hard courts,” Barty said. “Haven’t played her on the grass. She has the ability to take the game away from you pretty early in rallies. A big serve, a big first shot after her serve. It will be important for me to neutralize the best that I can and bring variety into the match, as well.”
In other action, seven-time Wimbledon singles champion Serena Williams, the 11th seed, was tested by Italian qualifier Giulia Gatto-Monticone before prevailing 6-2, 7-5.
This was just the 14th match of the year for Williams, who has been battling a knee injury. She hadn’t played since her loss in the Round of 32 to American Sofia Kenin at the French Open.
Williams jumped to a quick 5-0 lead in the first set, but Gatto-Monticone used two aces to make it 5-1, then converted a service break opportunity before Williams broke back to win the set.
In the second set, Gatto-Monticone fought off a pair of break points at 3-2, and at 5-3 and with Williams serving for the match, the Italian broke Williams’ serve but couldn’t squeeze out the set.
“She never gave up,” Williams told the BBC after the match about her opponent. “It’s really good for me to play matches like that. I haven’t had a ton of matches this year.”
She said her knee is feeling better.
“Honestly, it’s the best I’ve felt since February,” she said, adding, “I’m feeling good. I can actually walk.”
Williams will meet Slovenian teenager Kaja Juvan, a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 winner over Czech Kristyna Pliskova.
Also Tuesday, sixth-seeded Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, a two-time Wimbledon champion, beat Ons Jabeur of Turkey 6-4, 6-2; fifth-seeded German Angelique Kerber, the defending champion, topped countrywoman Tatjana Maria 6-4, 6-3; and another former champ, Russian Maria Sharapova, retired with an apparent left arm injury down 5-0 in the third set against Pauline Parmentier of France. Sharapova had three match points in the second set but couldn’t close it out, with the match ending 4-6, 7-6 (4), 5-0.
American Sloane Stephens, the No. 9 seed, topped Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland 6-2, 6-4, while 25th-seeded Amanda Anisimova, 17, beat Romanian Sorana Cirstea 6-3, 6-3. Anisimova advanced to the semifinals of the French Open.
Fourth-seeded Kiki Bertens of Netherlands prevailed 6-3, 6-2 over Mandy Minella of Luxembourg.
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)

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