Sabalenka thrashes Kenin to sail into China Open second round

BEIJING: World number one Aryna Sabalenka sailed into the second round of the China Open with an imperious 6-1, 6-2 defeat of Sofia Kenin of the United States on Sunday.

The Belarusian pummelled Kenin with a succession of mighty serves and groundstrokes and wrapped up the opening set with an ace after just 23 minutes.

The 25-year-old broke serve twice more in the second set as Kenin – playing with heavy strapping on her left thigh – failed to muster a response.

Sabalenka sealed the match with yet another unreturned serve to set up a tie against either Magdalena Frech or Katie Boulter in the next round.

"Honestly, I didn't expect to play that good on my serve – in practice, it didn't work very well," Sabalenka said at a post-match news briefing.

"But I was super hyped that I was able to bring that level on my serve today. I think it helped a lot," she said.

"I think that was the key of today's match."

All of the world's top eight are taking part in the women's draw this year, with second-ranked Iga Swiatek due to play Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo.

The China Open is taking place for the first time since 2019 after Beijing ended its isolationist zero-Covid policies.

The women's tournament is also in action for the first time since the global governing body ended a boycott of China this year.

The embargo had been declared after Chinese player Peng Shuai made sexual assault accusations against a top government official. --AFP

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