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Barty, Serena, Kerber move on in Wimbledon 'quarter of death'

Andrew Hendrie in WTA Tour 3 Jul 2019
  • Barty, Kerber and Serena all advance into Wimbledon second round
  • Kerber and Serena remain on course to clash in the R16, with the winner to possibly meet Barty in the QFs
Ashleigh Barty (PA Images)

World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, seven-time winner Serena Williams and defending champion Angelique Kerber all got off to winning starts as they moved into the second round of their ‘quarter of death’ at Wimbledon on Tuesday.

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Barty, playing a tournament as the World No. 1 for the first time, finished strongly to register a 6-4 6-2 victory over Zheng Saisai on No. 1 Court, improving her record over the Chinese player to a flawless 4-0.

The Australian extended her winning streak to 13 matches following on from her stunning Grand Slam breakthrough at Roland Garros and a title triumph in Birmingham two weeks ago, which catapulted her to the No. 1 ranking.

"I think [Zheng is] a very tricky opponent to start off with," Barty told reporters after her win. "Very happy with the way we were able to work our way into the match. Took some time to adjust to conditions and a different court. It's a beautiful court to play on."
"Kind of came into it thinking kind of like 'hakuna matata,' just relax and go for it," Barty added. "Really nice to come in here, get stuck into that first match."

Two seeds in Barty’s mini-section have already been eliminated, with former champion Garbine Muguruza - who was seeded to be the Aussie’s opponent in the third round - going down to qualifier Beatriz Haddad Maia, while 22nd seed Donna Vekic suffered a first round elimination to s-Hertogenbosch champion Alison Riske, who is a top 20 quality player on grass.

There was no such trouble for the other two big names in this quarter though. Serena avoided the same fate as her sister as she survived a challenging second set to move past Italian qualifier Giulia Gatto-Monticone, while Kerber kicked off her title defence with a straight sets triumph over countrywoman Tatjana Maria.

Serena Williams (PA Images)
Serena, who has never lost in the opening round of Wimbledon in 19 appearances, emerged victorious in her first match since losing in the third round of Roland Garros, toppling Gatto-Monticone 6-2 7-5.

“I think right now I have to have every match count like 10 matches, because I haven't had a ton of matches this year,” Serena said, also revealing she would be competing in the mixed doubles at Wimbledon alongside Andy Murray.
“I learned a lot from that match, just going to keep the momentum going.”

Serena has only played six tournaments in 2019 and has retired or withdrawn from three of them as she’s battled a knee injury. The legendary American faces another qualifier in Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan in the second round and remains on course for a semi-final rematch from last year in the third round with 18th seed Julia Goerges.

Meanwhile, Kerber claimed an eighth straight win at Wimbledon as she launched her title defence with a relatively routine 6-4 6-3 win over Maria, who won the grass-court title in Mallorca last year.

Kerber said she was battling nerves before the match but managed to settle as she finished with 11 winners to 12 unforced errors.

"I was really nervous, to be honest, because of course to going out there as the defending champion, it was really special. Walking on the Centre Court playing there again, I mean, a lot of emotions, a lot of memories.
"But I was enjoying this. I was really enjoying the match. I was enjoying the points and the crowd. It was a really, yeah, nice match, but of course with a lot of nerves at the beginning."

The German goes on to meet American lucky loser Lauren Davis for a place in the third round. Kerber and Serena are seeded to clash in the fourth round, with the winner potentially going on to face Barty in the quarter-finals.


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Barty, Serena, Kerber move on in Wimbledon 'quarter of death'

World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, seven-time winner Serena Williams and defending champion Angelique Kerber all got off to winning starts as they moved into the second round of their ‘quarter of death’ at Wimbledon on Tuesday.

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