Cincinnati: Barty Beats Sharapova, Halep Survives

Top seeded Ash Barty overcame a slow start to defeat Maria Sharapova 6-4 6-1, while Simona Halep battled past Ekaterina Alexandrova 3-6 7-5 6-4 in the second round of the Cincinnati Masters on Wednesday.French Open champion Barty double faulted to give Sharapova a 2-1 lead in the first set and it looked like an upset could be brewing in the showdown between the two former world number ones.But an error-prone Sharapova bowed out after she produced six double faults and squandered six of her seven break point opportunities.Barty will next face Anett Kontaveit, who defeated Polish teenager Iga Swiatek in straight sets.Wimbledon champion Halep had her back against the wall against the big-serving Alexandrova when she dropped the first set and trailed 5-4 in the second but won the next three games and elevated her play again in the decider.World number one Naomi Osaka improved to 4-0 lifetime against Aliaksandra Sasnovich with a 7-6(3) 2-6 6-2 win.Third seeded Karolina Pliskova crushed lucky loser Wang Yafan 6-1 6-3 and Donna Vekic knocked out former champion Victoria Azarenka 6-2 7-5 to set up a showdown with Venus Williams on Thursday.

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