May 21, 2018 / 6:23 PM / in a month

Tennis: Barty eases to quickfire victory in Strasbourg opener

(Reuters) - Top seed Ashleigh Barty stepped up her French Open preparations with a ruthless display to cruise past Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum 6-4 6-4 in the opening round of the Strasbourg International on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - WTA Premier 5 - Italian Open - Foro Italico, Rome, Italy - May 15, 2018 Australia's Ashleigh Barty in action during her first round match against Russia's Maria Sharapova REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

The Australian number one struck 24 winners and saved both break points she faced to seal victory in an hour and 15 minutes.

The 22-year-old’s win sets up a second-round encounter with in-form Istanbul Cup winner Pauline Parmentier, after the home favorite overcame China’s Wang Yafan 6-4 7-6(8).

“I’ve never played her before but I know it’s probably the complete opposite game style to who I played today,” Barty, ranked 17th in the world, said.

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - Australian Open - Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia, January 19, 2018. Luksika Kumkhum of Thailand hits a shot against Petra Martic of Croatia. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

“For me, it’s another challenge. It’s always very tough playing French players in their country.

“I’ll take that on and hopefully have a good match, knowing all in all that I would love to do well here this week but that it’s also preparation for Roland Garros.”

Two-time champion and title holder Samantha Stosur fired 12 aces in a dominant 6-3 6-2 victory over American Sofia Kenin.

The 2010 French Open runner-up will next face Fed Cup team mate Daria Gavrilova in a rematch of their all-Australian final last year.

Second-seeded Gavrilova edged out American Jennifer Brady 7-6(8) 7-6(6) in a tense battle which lasted over two hours.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis

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