Ashleigh Barty returns a shot against Maria Sharapova in Cincinnati WTA opener at Lindner Family Tennis Center, Aug 14, 2019. [Photo/Agencies] 

CINCINNATI – Australian No 1 seed Ashleigh Barty breezed to a straight set victory over Russian ace Maria Sharapova in Cincinnati WTA opener on Wednesday.

Barty fired 18 winners, breaking Sharapova four times as the Russian made 31 unforced errors in her 6-4, 6-1 defeat.

“I did a really good job, especially in winning some of the crucial games,” the Australian said.

“I love this time of year, getting back onto the hard courts and back to the summer here,” she added.

The reigning sensation, 23, who scooped the French Open title this year, continued her devastating form to claim her 40th victory of 2019, denying her Russian opponent’s intention to go further in the game.

It was the second time that Barty had beaten the five-time Grand Slammer who was once Cincinnati champion in 2011 after a win at the Australia Open.

Barty will face Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit in the third round, who beat Polish teenager Iga Swiatek 6-4, 7-6 (2).