Victoria Azarenka was forced to make an abrupt and unexpected exit in the first round of the inaugural Hong Kong Open on Tuesday. Leylah Fernandez advanced after the top-seeded entrant retired after the second set. Fernandez dropped the first set 2-6 but won the second, 6-3 before the 34-year-old decided to halt the match.
Azarenka’s retirement was the first of three retirements that dotted play. The Canadian, meanwhile, will take on Mirra Andreeva in the second round. The teen defeated Dayana Yastremska 6-4, 6-3 in an hour and 22 minutes.
Andreeva won 71% of her first-serve points to the Ukrainian’s 70%. She also won 63% points on return on Yastremska’s second serve while winning 63% of her second-serve points. Andreeva faced a sole break point that she wasn’t able to save but she did convert four of eight break points that came her way.
Hong Kong Open: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova's imperious debut
Elina Avanesyan who played the last match in Hong Kong was also forced to stop play partway, in the first round. Fourth seed Xinyu Wang was Avanesyan’s opponent and led the latter 6-2, 4-1 before the match drew to a close.
In the time that the match was played, Wang won 80% points on return on Avanesyan’s second serve and converted six break points on her serve. Next up for Wang will be local wildcard, Ho Ching Wu, or Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo.
Fifth seed Anna Blinkova also entered the second round after her first-round rival, Yulia Putintseva retired in their match. Putintseva’s retirement came at an awkward time as Blinkova was leading 5-1 in the deciding set.
Earlier, the two players had split sets with the seeded entrant taking the opener 6-4 and the Kazakh winning the second, 6-2. One of the strongest wins on Tuesday at the Hong Kong Open came off the racquet of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
After merely 49 minutes, the former 11th-ranked player in the world routed the Czech Republic’s Jana Fett, 6-0, 6-0. Fett didn’t win any of the 12 points she put in on her second serve. The past French Open runner-up saved both break points she faced and converted six of eight break points she had.