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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Barty makes perfect start in Madrid

Australia's Ashleigh Barty returns the ball during her singles final match against Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka (not in picture) of the Women's Tennis Grand Prix WTA 500 tournament in Stuttgart, southwestern Germany, on April 25, 2021. / AFP / POOL / Marijan Murat
Australia's Ashleigh Barty returns the ball during her singles final match against Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka (not in picture) of the Women's Tennis Grand Prix WTA 500 tournament in Stuttgart, southwestern Germany, on April 25, 2021. / AFP / POOL / Marijan Murat

MADRID: Ashleigh Barty eased past Shelby Rogers on Thursday in the first round of the Madrid Open as the world number one prepares to try to reclaim her French Open title in Paris next month.


Barty enjoyed a comfortable 6-2, 6-1 victory over Rogers to book her place in round two, where she will face either Su-Wei Hsieh or Tamara Zidansek.


The Australian will be one of the favourites at Roland Garros after her victory there in 2019 and because of her excellent recent form.


Barty arrived in Madrid on the back of winning her third WTA title this year in Stuttgart, which took her winning streak to 11 matches on European red clay.


She said on Thursday she would to have adjust to the outdoor conditions in Madrid but there was little sign of awkwardness against Rogers, whom she has now beaten five times out of five, including four times this year.


Rogers, ranked 43rd, lost to Barty in the Australian Open round of 16 in February before pushing her to three sets on the hard courts in Charleston earlier this month.


But the American was no match for the counter-attacking punch of her opponent this time, with Barty able to absorb Rogers' aggression and coax her into too many mistakes.


Two breaks of serve in each set were enough for the top seed to seal a straight-forward victory in exactly an hour.


Earlier, fourth seed Elina Svitolina suffered a shock defeat to Switzerland's world number 40 Jil Teichmann but three-time Madrid champion Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber, Kiki Bertens and Johanna Konta all made it safely through. -- AFP


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