Aryna Sabalenka is set to play as the world No 1 for the first time in her career as the Belarusian has learned her projected path to winning the China Open in Beijing. Sabalenka, the top-seeded player in the draw, will be starting her campaign at a WTA 1000 event in Beijing by playing against 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.
After Kenin, Sabalenka could meet world No 54 Katie Boulter in the second round. In the third round, Sabalenka is projected to meet a seeded player for the first time - No 15 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia. The Beijing quarterfinal could bring a rematch of this year's Australian Open as Sabalenka is projected to meet Elena Rybakina there.
In the Beijing semifinal, Sabalenka is projected to play No 4 seed Jessica Pegula. The projected Beijing final sees Sabalenka taking on Iga Swiatek.
Sabalenka on playing as the world No 1
After spending seven consecutive months ranked at No 2, Sabalenka is finally ranked at No 1 for the first time in her career.
Ahead of her Beijing campaign, Sabalenka highlighted there is a bigger responsibility on her now that she is the top-ranked player in the world. "Well, it just sounds still crazy. I feel like I have a lot of responsibility right now on being No 1.
I feel like kind of representing the tour. Honestly, it's something new for me and still kind of like trying to, I don't know, just trying to understand if it's actually changing anything. Overall it's not changing anything. Like, I was No 2, now I'm No 1.
I'm still going to be there. I'm still going to fight for it. It's not changing anything. You know, I can say after my career, I can say that, Yeah, I've been world No 1. It sounds cool, right (smiling)?" Sabalenka said. It remains to be seen if Sabalenka can win her first Beijing title this year.
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