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Sabalenka holds off Riske challenge for Wuhan crown; De Minaur takes Zhuhai title

Last updated on: September 29, 2019 20:25 IST

Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus reacts after winning a point.

IMAGE: Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus reacts after winning a point. Photograph: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Belarusian ninth seed Aryna Sabalenka held off a spirited challenge from American Alison Riske to win 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 and successfully defend her Wuhan Open title on Saturday.

 

World number 14 Sabalenka raced past her unseeded opponent in the first five games of the final set before sealing victory with her 18th ace of the match.

Sabalenka, who rallied from a set down to beat Riske in the Shenzhen Open final earlier this year, started much more aggressively in Saturday’s final as she claimed five of the first six games before sealing the opening set.

Riske faced nine aces from Sabalenka in the second set but broke serve in the sixth game to force a decider.

However, Sabalenka’s powerful groundstrokes ensured she never faced a break point in the final set as she extended her winning streak in Wuhan to 12 matches.

Sabalenka heads to Beijing next, where she faces either Russian Daria Kasatkina or home favourite Peng Shuai in her opening match.

France’s Adrian Mannarino overcame a mid-match blip to beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 at the Zhuhai Championships on Saturday, advancing to his second tour-level final.

Mannarino, who now meets his Australian practice partner Alex de Minaur, started with a flourish as he reeled off the opening seven games to stamp his authority on the match.

After impressive wins over Andy Murray and Borna Coric, De Minaur stunned second seed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 6-2.

Eighth-seeded Spaniard Ramos-Vinolas got on the scoreboard early in the second set and forced his way back into the contest with a crucial break of serve to force a decider.

But Mannarino’s lethal first-serve ensured he continued to dictate play in the final set as he claimed the last five games to progress after two hours and three minutes.

“Conditions are really humid here and it was really physical, but I was able to stay really concentrated,” the 31-year-old Mannarino said.

“Even if I lost the second set, I stayed consistent with a lot of energy in the third set.

“I finally got the break in a really close game at the beginning of the third set and that gave me a push up and I was able to finish well too. I hope I am going to keep going like this in the final.”

Mannarino is chasing his second ATP Tour title after winning the Libema Open in June at the age of 30 to become the oldest first-time champion on the men’s circuit this year.

De Minaur captures third career title in Zhuhai

Australian youngster Alex de Minaur won his third title of the season at the Zhuhai Championships on Sunday, beating Adrian Mannarino 7-6(4), 6-4 in the final to edge closer to a top-20 world ranking.

De Minaur, currently 31 in the world, overcame the Frenchman in a little over two hours to cap an impressive week for the 20-year-old.

He powered past three-times Grand Slam winner Andy Murray, world number 14 Borna Coric and 10th-ranked Roberto Bautista Agut en route to Sunday's championship match.

His trophy in China will sit alongside the ones he won in his hometown Sydney and Atlanta earlier this year.

De Minaur was almost flawless on serve, never facing a break point, but squandered 12 chances to go up a break against his French opponent until the final point of the match, when Mannarino netted a backhand.

The pair may not have to wait for long to play each other again, as first-round wins at next week's Japan Open would set up a last-16 showdown.

Carreno Busta withstands Bublik barrage to claim Chengdu crown

Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta claimed his first ATP title in more than two years after coming back from a set down to beat big-serving Alexander Bublik 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-6(3) in the Chengdu Open final in China on Sunday.

World No 63 Carreno Busta, who snapped a six-match semi-final losing streak on Saturday, withstood 31 aces from his 6ft 5ins (1.96m) Kazakh opponent to lift his fourth ATP title after just over two hours.

Both players were in complete control on serve in the final set and did not leak a single break point, before Carreno Busta raced to a 5-1 lead in the tiebreak and went on to seal victory with a crosscourt backhand winner.

It was Carreno Busta's first title since winning Estoril Open in 2017.

Bublik, 22, enjoyed an impressive run in Chengdu this week, recording upset wins over American Taylor Fritz and Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov to reach his second ATP final of the season.

Frustrated Osaka battles past Pegula in Beijing opener

Japan's two-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka produced scowls rather than smiles at the China Open in Beijing on Sunday despite reaching the second round with a straight-sets win.

Fourth seed Osaka, fresh off her title triumph at the Pan Pacific Open, struck 26 winners win a 6-3 7-6(5) win over American Jessica Pegula, only to complain about the way she had played.

"During tournaments, the first match is always the worst for me," Osaka said.

"But I was kind of expecting it to be better because I just played really well in Tokyo (Osaka).

"I don't know, I thought it would carry on. I was a little bit frustrated that I felt my game wasn't really where I left it. I just felt like today I was really riled up, not really sure why."

After committing only seven unforced errors in the opening set, Osaka's game began to leak mistakes as Pegula forced break points early in the second.

In the second set tiebreak, Osaka was unable to serve out of win, and let a 4-1 led slip to fall 4-5 behind.

But in the clutch moments of the match, Osaka displayed her nimbleness around the court to force consecutive errors from Pegula and seal victory in an hour and 31 minutes.

Reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep showed no signs of the lower back injury that forced her out of Wuhan Open last week as she raced past qualifier Rebecca Peterson 6-1, 6-1.

Third seed Elina Svitolina recovered from a sloppy start to beat last year's Beijing runner-up, Latvian Anastasija Sevastova, 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-2.

Former World No 1  Venus Williams came back from a break down in the final set to overcome Barbora Strycova 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, extending her winning record against the Czech to five matches.

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