Sabalenka shines in first match as No. 1, Vondrousova crashes in Beijing

October 2, 2023 4:22 am

[Source: Reuters]

Aryna Sabalenka outclassed Sofia Kenin 6-1 6-2 at the China Open on Sunday in her first match as the women’s world number one while Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova crashed out after losing 1-6 6-4 6-1 to Anhelina Kalinina in Beijing.

Sabalenka, who leapfrogged Iga Swiatek into top spot after her run to last month’s U.S. Open final, returned to action in China and did not face a breakpoint in her tournament opener which she wrapped up in 67 minutes, firing 22 winners.

The win gave Belarusian Sabalenka a measure of redemption following a stunning defeat by the 2020 Australian Open champion in the Rome second round in May.

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“I’m super happy with the win, I think I played really great tennis today,” reigning Australian Open champion Sabalenka said.

“I didn’t actually expect to play that good after how many weeks I didn’t play tournaments. I think the way I served was the key in today’s match.”

The 25-year-old top seed, who ignited her career by winning four out of her first five WTA titles in the Asian nation before the COVID crisis, next meets Katie Boulter who beat Magdalena Frech 6-4 3-6 6-2.

But it was the end of the road for Czech world number eight Vondrousova, who fell to Rome runner-up Kalinina despite making a strong start to their first tour-level meeting.

“Today was not really a good match from my side,” Kalinina said. “I started very bad, honestly. It was too fast, 20 minutes 0-5 so I cannot say I was pleased.

“But I was just trying to get my rhythm back. It actually worked only at the end of the second set and then I was able to keep going.”

Also advancing to the next round was Jelena Ostapenko, who battled past qualifier Eva Lys 2-6 6-3 6-2, but another former French Open champion made an early exit as Barbora Krejcikova fell 6-2 6-2 against 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva.

On the men’s side, world number two Carlos Alcaraz booked his place in the quarter-finals with a 6-2 6-2 win over Italian Lorenzo Musetti for his 60th victory of the year.

“Today was a perfect match for me,” said Alcaraz, who is making his debut in Beijing. “You can improve and be better every day but I was proud of my tennis playing this level.

“I played high quality, great shots and a great return game. It was a great match. I enjoyed playing today. I enjoy China.”

Up next for the Spaniard is seventh seed Casper Ruud, who edged Tomas Martin Etcheverry 1-6 7-5 7-6(7).

Fifth seed Jannik Sinner eased past Yoshihito Nishioka 6-2 6-0 and will next take on Grigor Dimitrov, who sent third seed Holger Rune packing with a 6-3 7-5 victory.