China Open: Aryna Sabalenka totters past Jasmine Paolini into last-eight in Beijing


China Open: Aryna Sabalenka totters past Jasmine Paolini into last-eight in Beijing
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Aryna Sabalenka made her way into the quarter-finals of the China Open on Thursday. But in order to do so, the world no. 1 had to fight yet another lengthy battle, this time against Jasmine Paolini. Eventually, after nearly a quarter past the hour, Sabalenka got through, 6-4, 7-6(4).

In the first set, Sabalenka saved both break points she faced and made good of the only break point she generated to secure a lead for herself in the contest. At its start, the second set, too, looked like it would head the top-ranked player’s way but she made it quite difficult for herself.

Sabalenka was the one who first got the break in the second set in the fourth game but gave it right back in lieu of consolidating it. Her Italian opponent then had a chance to go up in the set as she broke Sabalenka’s serve for the second straight time, in the seventh game.

A couple of games further along, the world no. 36 had her first chance of serving for the set but she wasn’t even able to bring up a point in that game. However, Sabalenka was able to pounce on return, her own serve kept cracking and she was broken for the third time in the set, in the 11th game.

But, as had happened in the 10th game, Paolini couldn’t push further and was broken to 30 to send the set into the tie-break. In the tie-break, Sabalenka restored normalcy in her favour and pocketed the match with a final score of 7-4 in the tie-break.

Sabalenka won 76% of her first-serve points but only 37% of her second-serve points. She did, however, win 69% points on return on Paolini’s second serve that helped get to the distance. The world’s highest-ranked singles player will play Elena Rybakina, in what will be their third face-off this season.

China Open: Coco Gauff leads other seeds into the quarters

Earlier, Coco Gauff won her third-round clash against Veronika Kudermetova. The third seed faced a few set points in the opener before she managed to get a 7-6(5), 6-2 win for herself over the 16th seed.

Gauff will take on Maria Sakkari for a chance to win her 20th match on the go. It will be the first time the two will be encountering each other. In her third-round match-up on Thursday, the sixth seed from Greece won against Xinyu Wang, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.

Wang was the only Chinese player remaining in the draw after her compatriots all exited, in the earlier stages. Lastly, Caroline Garcia made a place for herself in the quarter-finals of the China Open. The 29-year-old, seeded ninth, grabbed a 6-3, 6-2 win for herself against Anhelina Kalinina.

Aryna Sabalenka Jasmine Paolini Coco Gauff