Gauff saves four set points before advancing to the quarterfinals at the China Open
BEIJING (AP) — Top-ranked Aryna Sabalenka set up a quarterfinal match against Elena Rybakina at the China Open on Thursday by beating Jasmine Paolini 6-4, 7-6 (4).
Sabalenka hit 13 aces to take the first set but the 36th-ranked Italian came from 3-1 down to serve for the second set twice at 5-4 and 6-5.
Sabalenka will play the fifth-seeded Rybakina for the third time season. They split the two finals they have contested this season at the Australian Open and Indian Wells, with the Belarusian winning the Grand Slam title in Melbourne.
“It’s always great battles against Elena. I think I just have to focus on myself, play aggressive and just play my game,” Sabalenka said. “I know that I’ll have some chances to win this match. In the last match I lost, I got nervous a little bit and I rushed a little bit more. The key against Elena is just to stay calm, stay aggressive, and not over-rush things.”
Coco Gauff saved four set points before beating 16th-seeded Veronika Kudermetova 7-6 (5), 6-2. Kudermetova led 5-4, 40-0 at the end of the first set but was unable to convert.
The victory extended the third-ranked American's winning streak to 15 matches, a span that includes the Cincinnati title and her U.S. Open victory last month. Gauff will next meet sixth-seeded Maria Sakkari, who defeated Wang Xinyu 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.
Earlier, ninth-seeded Caroline Garcia beat Anhelina Kalinina 6-3, 6-2 and will next play second-ranked Iga Swiatek.
Gregoire Barrere beat Nonu Borges 6-2, 6-2 in the first round of the Shanghai Masters to set up a meeting with top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz.
Stefano Napolitano, who made the main draw after qualifying opponent Marc Polmans was defaulted for hitting the ball into the face of the chair umpire, lost to qualifier Beibit Zhukayev 7-5, 7-5.
Other winners included Rinky Hijikata, Quentin Halys, Matteo Arnaldi, Lorenzo Sonego, Aleksander Vukic, Arthur Fils, Mikhail Kukushkin and Tseng Chun-hsin.
The top 32 seeded players, including Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev, received a first-round bye and will play in the second round from Friday.
AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis