• Ash Barty recognizes the crowd after defeating Heather Watson, of Britain during the Western & Southern Open. (AAP)Source: AAP
The nightmare of Tokyo is fading as the World No. 1 finds her form again at the WTA 1000.
19 Aug 2021 - 2:54 PM  UPDATED 19 Aug 2021 - 2:54 PM

Ash Barty was able to "find some pretty good stuff" when required in her Cincinnati Open victory over British qualifier Heather Watson, in the Ngarigo woman's first match since her shock first-round exit at the Tokyo Olympics.

World No.1 Barty needed to shake off some rust before overcoming Watson 6-4 7-6 (7-3) after a tough one hour 46 minute duel at the WTA 1000 event.

Barty, who showed signs of her brilliant best even while serving up eight double faults in an uneven performance, reckoned she had to "dig deep" to finally subdue the world No.67's resistance on a hot afternoon - and she enjoyed the experience.

"Heather's an extremely tough opponent. It was always going to be an exceptionally tough match for me to find my groove and rhythm and there's a little bit of work to be done," Barty said in her on-court interview.

"It's our career and our livelihood - but it's just a game.

"Sometimes you have to find a way to enjoy the fight, enjoy the battle and it was certainly one of those matches today when I had to dig deep.

"And I felt like when it really mattered, I was able to find some pretty good stuff."

Indeed, there was a certain inevitability that once Barty slipped into another gear she would go on and set up a last-16 encounter with defending champion Victoria Azarenka, who beat Alison Riske 6-2 7-5.

Wimbledon champion Barty, who was left deeply frustrated by her shock loss in the draining heat of Tokyo to Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo, appeared hungry and opened up in brilliant fashion, racing into a 3-0 lead against Watson.

'A disappointing day': Ash Barty suffers shock Olympics loss
The Ngarigo woman and World Number 1 has been knocked out of the singles after a straight-sets loss in scorching conditions in Tokyo.

She was pegged back but regained a measure of control with a break to love before finally closing out the first set with glorious forehand drive.

After the second set went with serve, Barty earned an immediate mini-break with a cracking forehand, her 29th winner, in the tiebreaker to dictate proceedings.

The Queenslander powered down her ninth ace to earn five match points, the third of which she converted for a highly satisfactory return to tour action.

With AP

Olympic bronze for Barty and partner Peers
World Number 1 Ash Barty and her partner John Peers claimed the bronze medal after Novak Djokovic pulled out of the third placed playoff.