French Open champ Barty makes winning start on grass
Venus Williams progressed to round two as the 39-year-old eased past Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3, 6-4. World number three Karolina Pliskova will face her twin sister Kristyna Pliskova later on Wednesday for a place in the last eight
Birmingham: French Open champion Ashleigh Barty got her grass court season off to a winning start, but Johanna Konta's Wimbledon preparations suffered a blow with defeat at the Birmingham Classic on Wednesday. Barty saw off a bright start from Croatia's Donna Vekic in her first match since lifting a first Grand Slam title to win 6-3, 6-4 and set up a second round meeting with American Jennifer Brady. "I think it was probably as smooth as it could have gone," said Barty.
"I felt really good with my feet on the grass. We haven't had a hell of a lot of grass court time because of the weather but in a sense that made it even better because it was fresh, it was new. "I could really just play by feel and try and work my way into the match." The Australian shot to number two in the world rankings by winning in Paris earlier this month and could even end the week as number one if she outperforms Naomi Osaka in England's Midlands. However, Barty insists she is not yet feeling any strain of being a Grand Slam champion. "I don't feel any different myself," she added.
"I'm still the same Ash Barty that I was three weeks ago. I'm the same Ash Barty I was two years ago." Konta also made the last four at the French Open, but her return to the grass was cut short in the second round by Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-4. A former French Open winner herself, Ostapenko has struggled with injuries this season but has now posted back-to-back wins for just the second time this year. Venus Williams progressed to round two as the 39-year-old eased past Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3, 6-4. World number three Karolina Pliskova will face her twin sister Kristyna Pliskova later on Wednesday for a place in the last eight.
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