Sabalenka begins Shenzhen title defence with emphatic win


  • Tennis
  • Monday, 06 Jan 2020

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - Fed Cup - Fed Cup World Group - First Round - Germany v Belarus - Volkswagen Halle Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany - February 9, 2019 Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka celebrates during her match against Germany's Andrea Petkovic REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

(Reuters) - Defending champion Aryna Sabalenka started her 2020 season in style with a 6-3 6-0 victory over Russian qualifier Margarita Gasparyan in the first round of the Shenzhen Open on Monday.

The Belarusian -- who also won titles in Wuhan and Zhuhai last year -- needed only 71 minutes to wrap up the contest, breaking Gasparyan five times on centre court to advance to the last 16.

"I'm happy to start my season with a two-set win," she said in her post-match interview. "It was a tough match and really tough to start.

"She's a great player and it was tough to play against her. She has strong strokes.

Sabalenka will next face the Czech Republic's Kristyna Pliskova, who beat Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3 6-3.

Sixth seed Garbine Muguruza fought back to beat China's Wang Xin Yu 3-6 6-3 6-0 while Aliaksandra Sasnovich advanced with a 6-2 6-3 victory over Germany's Anna-Lena Friedsam.

In a battle between two Americans, Shelby Rogers beat Nicole Gibbs 6-3 5-7 6-4 in a match that lasted two hours and 33 minutes while fourth seed and local hope Wang Qiang got the better of Tunisia's Ons Jabeur 6-0 6-3.

Seventh seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan beat China's Zheng Saisai 6-2 1-6 6-2.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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