STRASBOURG, France - Fresh off a doubles title at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia over the weekend, top seed Ashleigh Barty kept her winning ways going in singles at the Internationaux de Strasbourg with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Thai lucky loser Luksika Kumkhum.
The World No.17 put on a business-like performance to defeat Kumkhum in their second-ever meeting, saving both break points she faced in the first set and losing just five points on her delivery in the second to advance to the second round in one hour and 15 minutes - aptly sealing victory with an ace.
Barty struck 21 winners, more than double Kumkhum's total of nine, and four aces over the course of the match, and went 2-for-5 on break points.
Though she's safely in the second round, the top seed revealed post-match that she almost didn't make it to the French city to play just 24 hours after winning in Rome.
"We were actually very lucky that we could get out of Rome last night, because there was only one available flight that we could get on going into Basel, and the tournament was kind enough to pick us up," Barty said after the match.
"It probably wasn't my cleanest tennis and my best today, but all in all, happy to get through considering the circumstances."
The now-Aussie No.1 returns to Strasbourg a year removed from reaching the quarterfinals at last year's event, where she was upended by compatrtior Daria Gavrilova.
Last year, Barty was a qualifier ranked World No.84, but comes into this year's tournament one spot off her career-high ranking and seeded ahead of compatriots Gavrilova (No.2) and defending champion Samantha Stosur, who is unseeded.
Her victory sets up a second-round clash with in-form Istanbul Cup champion Pauline Parmentier, after the home favorite saved a set point in the second set to hold off Wang Yafan, 6-4, 7-6(8).
"I've never played her before but I know it's probably the complete opposite gamestyle to who I played today," the Aussie said.
"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."