China Open: Magda Linette scores a bracing win over world no. 17, Victoria Azarenka

Yue Yuan also gave a lot of reasons to cheer for the fans in the Chinese capital

by Abbey Johnson
China Open: Magda Linette scores a bracing win over world no. 17, Victoria Azarenka
© Hector Vivas/ Getty Images

Magda Linette ousted 14th seed Victoria Azarenka in their first-round clash at the China Open on Saturday. The Pole, who reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open in January 2023 got past the loss of the opening set to beat the two-time past Australian Open winner, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2.

Linette needed a little over two hours to get the result swing her way. Azarenka hit seven double faults and could only win 36% of her second-serve points. Linette had a clean sheet as far as double faults were concerned and won two-thirds of her second-serve points.

She converted six of eight break points on Azarenka’s serve while conceding three break points on hers. This was the first tournament Azarenka was playing in Asia, since her loss in the quarters to Caroline Garcia in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Another player who dropped the first set but went on to win the match was Yue Yuan. The Chinese player, who received a wildcard in her home nation’s event, won against Elise Mertens, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 after nearly two hours and 45 minutes of play.

Yuan will now play either Jasmine Paolini or 15th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia.

China Open: Italians exit, Croatians' mixed results

Two of Paolini’s fellow Italians who played their first-round match on Saturday crashed out.

Tatjana Maria defeated Martina Trevisan 6-3, 7-6(2). Marta Kostyuk claimed a 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Elisabetta Cocciaretto. Varvara Gracheva also needed three sets to beat Anastasia Potapova 6-2, 3-6, 6-1. The match lasted two hours and 26 minutes.

Two Croatians had contrasting fortunes at the China Open on Saturday. Petra Martic won against Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(3). Meanwhile, Anna Blinkova got past Donna Vekic 6-3, 7-5.

Magda Linette Victoria Azarenka Yue Yuan