French Open champion Barty makes smooth transition to grass

French Open champion Ashleigh Barty cruised to a routine 6-3, 6-4 triumph over Donna Vekic at the Birmingham Classic on Wednesday.

Ashleigh Barty serves enroute her 6-3, 6-4 win against Croatia's Donna Vekic on Wednesday.   -  Getty Images

French Open champion Ashleigh Barty made a smooth transition from Parisian clay to British lawns as the Australian opened her grasscourt campaign with an impressive 6-3, 6-4 victory over Croatia's Donna Vekic in the Birmingham Classic on Wednesday.

In her first match since winning her maiden Grand Slam title by beating Marketa Vondrousova at Roland Garros little more than a week ago, the 23-year-old began sluggishly but quickly found her rhythm to move through to the second round.

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Vekic is no slouch on grass and Barty, emerging as one of the favourites for Wimbledon, said it was the “perfect test”.

“I knew that I had to be sharp and I had to be ready. Otherwise it wouldn't even be a contest,” Barty said on court. “It was nice and clean today out here. I was just really excited to come back out and kind of dust off the cobwebs a little bit,” she added.

Barty, a former junior Wimbledon champion, dropped serve early on but her deep, skidding sliced backhand began to work its magic as the Vekic errors mounted. She broke twice to take the opening set and then broke twice more to seize control in the second.

Vekic did prolong the contest to grab back one of the breaks when Barty served for the match. However, Barty made no mistake the second time around when she brought up match point with an ace and sealed victory when Vekic netted an attempted drop shot.

Only six women -- Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Serena Williams -- have managed to follow up her a French Open triumph by winning Wimbledon in the professional era.

Barty will continue to hone her grasscourt skills against American Jennifer Brady who beat Lesia Tsurenko 6-3, 6-3.

Jelena Ostapenko beat Britain's seventh seed Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-4 to enter the quarterfinals.

Venus Williams also got off to a winning start as he registered a comfortable 6-3, 6-4 win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Elsewhere at the Mallorca Open, fourth seed Elise Mertens cruised into the quarterfinals after beating Australia's Sam Stosur 6-3, 6-3.

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