LONDON, Great Britain -- In her first Grand Slam match as the World No.1, Ashleigh Barty of Australia eased past Zheng Saisai of China, 6-4, 6-2, on No.1 Court, to open her Wimbledon campaign on Tuesday.
"I think [Zheng is] a very tricky opponent to start off with," Barty said during her post-match press conference. "Very happy with the way we were able to work our way into the match. Took some time to adjust to conditions and a different court. It's a beautiful court to play on."
"Kind of came into it thinking kind of like 'hakuna matata,' just relax and go for it," Barty added. "Really nice to come in here, get stuck into that first match."
Top-seeded Barty improved to 4-0 against World No.43 Zheng after her 75-minute victory. The Australian also extended her winning streak to 13 straight matches, which includes the run to her first Grand Slam singles championship at Roland Garros, as well as her title run in Birmingham which pulled her to the top of the WTA rankings.
"I've had some very tough matches against Saisai in the past," Barty stated. "It's always a big challenge playing up against her. I played her, I think, most recently in Wuhan last year. Again, different playing her in China, as well. Always a challenge -- one I enjoy playing. She brings so much variety to the court, as well."
The World No.1 won an excellent 86 percent of points on her first serve, and converted three of her six break points during the clash. Barty had 16 winners to Zheng's 11, while the Chinese No.2 had 24 unforced errors, four more than Barty.
"My serve was there when I needed it," Barty concluded. "In big points it was there. It's certainly no stress for me. That's not something I ever worry about."
Barty will face Belgium’s Alison van Uytvanck in the second round. Van Uytvanck outlasted two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, earlier on Tuesday.
"I've played Alison before on hard courts," said Barty. "Haven't played her on the grass. She has the ability to take the game away from you pretty early in rallies. A big serve, a big first shot after her serve. It will be important for me to neutralize the best that I can and bring variety into the match, as well."
Barty jumped out to an early lead in the encounter, using her slice backhand to carve her way through points and race to 3-0. But any thoughts the Australian might have had about an uncontested opening frame were dispelled when Zheng countered with variety of her own to get the break back, eventually reaching parity at 3-3.
The top seed had to survive a close service game at 4-4, pulling out that service hold from deuce after another error-forcing slice backhand and a backhand volley to reach 5-4. Barty was rewarded in the next game when Zheng dropped serve at love, ceding the set to the World No.1 with a long forehand miscue.
Barty maintained her momentum as the second set commenced, coming out on top in another close game as she earned a service break to lead 2-0 after three deuces. Routine service games helped propel strong-serving Barty to 4-1, as she edged closer to a second straight appearance in the second round of Wimbledon.
After another love hold for 5-2, Barty motored to double match point in the following game, after Zheng fired a forehand miscue into the net. The Chinese player slammed a winning overhead to erase the first match point, but on the second, Barty went back to her slice backhand to control a rally before forcing an error with a volley to break serve for the victory.
"The only pressure I have is what I put on myself, making sure I'm doing all the right things, preparing in the right way," said Barty. "Ultimately when we play our matches, we go out there and enjoy it. That's why we do all the work, all the practices, to go out there and enjoy competing."