Ashleigh Barty into Nature Valley Classic second round in Birmingham


French Open champion Ashleigh Barty got her grass-court season off to a winning start with victory over Donna Vekic in the first round in Birmingham.

The 23-year-old Australian recovered from an early break in the first set to beat the Croat 6-3 6-4.

Barty won five games in a row from the seventh game in the first set to set up a meeting with American Jennifer Brady, who beat Lesia Tsurenko 6-3 6-3.

Britain’s Johanna Konta faces Jelena Ostapenko in the second round later.

Barty’s match against Vekic was one of several to be postponed when play was suspended because of rain on Tuesday.

Vekic, runner-up at the Nottingham grass event on Sunday, staged a mini fightback when she broke Barty during the Australian’s first opportunity to serve for the match but Barty sealed victory in her next service game.

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams opens her campaign against Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich, while Czech identical twins Karolina and Kristyna Pliskova meet in the second round later on Wednesday.

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