Australia's Ashleigh Barty stretches for a return in her round-two clash at the Nottingham Open.
Australia's Ashleigh Barty stretches for a return in her round-two clash at the Nottingham Open. Nigel French

Barty building beautifully for Wimbledon

IN HER build-up to Wimbledon, Australia's No.1 Ashleigh Barty has marched into the second round of the Nottingham Open with a 6-3 6-3 victory over Switzerland's Stefanie Voegele.

The top seed and two-time quarter-finalist at the English grass-court tournament, Barty used her trademark slice to good effect to set up a first meeting with big-serving Duan Yingying of China in the round of 16.

Barty, who has made no secret of her eagerness to return to the lawns, revealed she has already taken the opportunity to have a hit-out at Wimbledon since arriving from Paris.

The 22-year-old, who took Serena Williams to three sets in the French Open at Roland Garros, admitted she was delighted with her opening victory in Nottingham.

"It just brings out a little bit of extra confidence, knowing that I did play well this time last year. I feel I can try to do that again, and we're off to a good start," Barty told the WTA website.

"The beauty of grass court tennis is that you get better with matches, and there's no better way than to get out there and try to fix up your game."

Barty played down her top seeding and admitted she would just "take it in my stride".

"I had that experience for the first time just a few weeks ago in Strasbourg and I felt I played well there," she said.

"It was a different feeling seeing my name at the top of the draw, but at the end of the day I'm in the draw just like everyone else is."

Fellow Australian Samantha Stosur, a wildcard entry into the Wimbledon lead-up tournament, also reached the second round after receiving a walkover when seventh seed Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan was forced to retire injured when 2-1 down in the first set.

Defending champion Donna Vekic, of Croatia, earned a hard-fought win over British wildcard Gabriella Taylor 7-5 5-7 7-6 (7-3).

British No.1 and fourth-seed Johanna Konta, who finished runner-up to Vekic at Nottingham last year, is looking to move past an underwhelming start to the season in front of the home crowd.

The 27-year-old beat Japan's Kurumi Nara 6-2 6-3 and next plays compatriot Heather Watson in the last-16.

- AAP



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