World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty set for Cincinnati event

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Cincinnati (Ohio), Aug 14 (IANS) World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia is set to play her first tour event since her emotional victory at Wimbledon last month when she competes in the Western & Southern Open — a WTA 1000 event in Cincinnati, Ohio — that begins on Monday (July 16).

The Aussie fell in a tough first-round loss at the Tokyo Olympic Games against Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo but walked away from her Olympic debut with a bronze in mixed doubles.

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Ashleigh leads the top quarter and will face a qualifier in the second round. She could face defending champion Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the Round of 16, with a trio of major champions looming as a potential quarterfinal opponent: Barbora Krejcikova (Czech), Garbine Muguruza (Spain) and Sloane Stephens (US). In fact, if Sloane gets past her qualifier opponent in the opening round, she could face Garbine in the second.

French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova will play her first-round match against San Jose finalist Daria Kasatkina of Russia. The Czech has won 22 of her past 24 matches.

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No.2 Naomi Osaka of Japan, who made her return to the court at the Olympics late last month for the first time since withdrawing from the French Open in May, anchors the fourth quarter, along with No.7 seed Bianca Andreescu of Canada, who is making her Cincinnati main-draw debut.

With a bye into the second round, Naomi could face 17-year-old Coco Gauff in the second round. The young American made her seventh quarterfinal of the season in Montreal this week. To earn a third meeting with Naomi, Coco will have to defeat a qualifier in the first round.

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The bottom quarter also features a rematch of the Tokyo 2020 gold medal match between Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic and Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, which the former won 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 to become the first woman to win tennis gold for Switzerland.

The top eight seeds are: Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka, Aryna Sabalenka, Elina Svitolina, Karolina Pliskova, Iga Swiatek, Bianca Andreescu, Garbine Muguruza.

–IANS

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