World No.1 Ashleigh Barty will look to put some distance between herself and the chasing pack after she eased in to the third round of the China Open in Beijing.
Barty put in a clinical display to beat world No.37 Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan, 6-4 6-2.
The victory in an hour and 17 minutes propels her into a last 16 match against local hope Zheng Saisai, who downed 2017 US Open champion and 13th seed Sloane Stephens 6-3 6-1.
With world No.2 Karolina Pliskova crashing out in the first round, Barty has the opportunity to open up a healthy lead at the top of the world rankings.
With no points to defend from the corresponding stage last year, Barty has already enhanced her rankings lead and would extend that substantially with a strong tournament showing in the Chinese capital.
“It was solid today without being fantastic,” Barty said of her form afterwards. “It was what we needed to do today. There were times where it was pretty good and there were times where it was challenging. Pretty happy with how … we were able to get on a roll in the second set a little bit there.”
In other second-round matches, defending champion Caroline Wozniacki won the last seven games to cruise past Christina McHale 6-4 6-0.
No.4 seed and former world No.1 Naomi Osaka extended her winning streak to six with a 6-2 6-0 defeat of qualifier Andrea Petkovic while Petra Kvitova’s dominance over Kristina Mladenovic continued with a 6-4 6-4 victory.
The Czech, seeded No.4 in Beijing, has won her past eight matches against the Frenchwoman dating back to 2014 — all in straight sets.
Daria Kasatkina put an end to the six-match winning streak of Aryna Sabalenka, notching a 6-4 7-6 (7-5) win over the Belarusian who had come from defending her title in Wuhan.
No.15 seed Sofia Kenin was another winners while Angelique Kerber’s poor form dragged on after another early exit at the hands of Slovenia’s Polona Hercog, who won 6-4 6-2.
Australian Ajla Tomljanovic battled hard against in-form American Alison Rise but despite saving seven match points went down 6-3 3-6 6-4.
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