Top seed Ashleigh Barty has beaten Maria Sharapova in straight sets to advance to the third round of the Cincinnati Open.
The world No.2, who had suffered a slump in form since her early exit from Wimbledon last month, comfortably beat the former Cincinnati champion 6-4 6-1 in one hour and 27 minutes in the second round on Wednesday.
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In an initially evenly matched contest, the pair exchanged point for point to be 4-4 before Barty broke away and closed out the first set 6-4.
The French Open champion then raced to a 3-0 lead in the second before Sharapova pulled one back.
But Barty immediately took the next point to be up 4-1 after the Russian overhit her return of the Australian's second serve.
The world No.2 then won a crucial breakpoint with her well-timed drop shot bringing Sharapova up to the net, before she exquisitely lobbed the ball back inside the flat-footed Russian's baseline to make it 5-1.
The 23-year-old wasted no time getting into position to serve out for the win, again sealing the set with her second serve.
Barty, who had a bye in the first round, avoided a consecutive opening defeat at a WTA event after she was beaten 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-4 by American Sofia Kenin at last week's Canadian Open.
In fact, the win is the Australian's 40th of the season, with her win-loss record 40-7, leaving her second only to Dutch ace Kiki Bertens (41-16).
It was also Barty's second victory over Sharapova this year after her fourth-round win in the Australian Open in January.
Barty will face either Pole Iga Swiatek or Estonian Anett Kontaveit in the following round.
Ash Barty easily beats Maria Sharapova 6-4 6-1 from 1-3 down in the first set. Moved Sharapova around and used her slice extremely well. Seriously good performance.— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) August 14, 2019
Clearly, Sharapova needs more matches.
Too good from Barty.— José Morgado (@josemorgado) August 14, 2019
Simona Halep rallies to win
In other matches, Simona Halep rallied after dropping the first set to defeat Ekaterina Alexandrova 3-6 7-5 6-4.
The Wimbledon champion fought off two break points in the eighth game of the third set and then broke Alexandrova to serve for the match.
Elina Svitolina, a Wimbledon semi-finalist, easily reached the third round with a 6-4 6-1 win over Elise Mertens.