Sabalenka outguns Azarenka to win inaugural Ostrava Open


FILE PHOTO: Sep 3, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus hits the ball against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus on day four of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Third seed Aryna Sabalenka stormed to a 6-2 6-2 victory over compatriot Victoria Azarenka to win the inaugural J&T Banka Ostrava Open and the first all-Belarusian WTA final on Sunday.

Former world number one Azarenka, who has been in top form since tennis restarted following its pandemic-enforced hiatus, needed a medical timeout in the second set and ended up losing the match in 68 minutes.

"I want to first of all congratulate Aryna and her team on a good week," Azarenka said. "It was my pleasure to play against you in the final, unfortunately not in the best way.

"Thank you everybody and please stay safe. I also want to just say hi to my baby boy Leo."

Sabalenka had to twice battle back from the brink of defeat -- first against American Coco Gauff and then against Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo -- to reach the final, but showed no sign of the inconsistencies that have often dogged her on the big stage.

She dominated from behind the baseline with her trademark powerful groundstrokes, running away with the match after breaking early in each set.

The world number 12 wrapped up the one-sided affair with an unreturnable serve out wide and celebrated her seventh WTA career singles title and second of the year with a fist pump and a kiss blown to the heavens.

"This was not the best final," Sabalenka told her opponent at the trophy presentation. "Hopefully you will get better soon. Thank you everyone who made this week possible. I enjoyed myself every day here."

(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon)

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