Top WTA Stars In Action in Cincinnati
All four WTA top seeds were in action today at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio with Naomi Osaka, Ashleigh Barty, and Karolina Pliskova fighting for to becomine World No. 1 at the end of the tournament.
Top-seed Ashleigh Barty ousted Maria Sharapova with relative ease 6-4, 6-1. Barty won 81% of her first points and converted four of seven break points.
“I think it was important for me after probably not a great start in my first couple service games to bring back the momentum a little bit,” said Barty. “And early in that second set I knew it was really important to start again, start the match fresh again and really focus on those first few games.”
Naomi Osaka notched her fist win in Cincinnati with a 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-2 win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich. The win assured that either Barty or Pliskova will need to at least make the final to take the WTA No. 1 ranking from Osaka.
Osaka, the second-seed but current No. 1 ranked woman, fired 24 winners with 29 unforced errors while Sasnovich contributed 22 winners and 26 unforced errors of her own. But it was Osaka who was more decisive on the defining points, converting four of five break point opportunities.
Three-seed Karolina Pliskova easily overpowered lucky loser Yafan Wang 6-1, 6-3. Pliskova rode her heavy forehand and deadly serve in victory, winning 86% of her first serve points. The 2016 Western and Southern Open champion will face qualifier Rebecca Peterson in the third round.
Three-time runner-up Simona Halep needed three sets to dispatch pesky Ekaterina Alexandrova 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.
Halep, playing in her first match since withdrawing from the Rogers Cup, found herself down a set and a break early in the second set before lifting her level of play.
“I felt slowly that I’m feeling good and I have no pain,” said Halep. “I got the confidence game by game, even if she was leading me. I still thought that there is a chance to win, and I have just to fight.”
Down 4-3 in the third set, Halep won 12 of the last 15 points to seal the victory. Simona Halep will face American Madison Keys in the third round.