Aryna Sabalenka is through to the round of 32 at the Madrid Open after beating Sorana Cirstea 6-4 6-3 on Thursday.

It was an ominous start for Cirstea, being broken to love in the opening game, but she stuck with second seed Sabalenka and broke back, before ultimately being pipped to the first set by the impressive Belarusian.

The key was on break points, with Sabalenka claiming all five that she won against the Cirstea serve, while saving six of eight on her own as she ultimately eased to victory.

Sabalenka now has 26 wins on clay in the WTA since 2021, with only Ons Jabeur (37), Iga Swiatek (34), Paula Badosa (31) and Coco Gauff (28) having more during this time.

Gauff also advanced after a routine 6-4 6-1 win over Irene Burillo Escorihuela, making the sixth seed in Madrid the first player to win 35 WTA-1000 main draw matches as a teenager since 2009.

Ninth seed Maria Sakkari defeated Arantxa Rus 6-4 6-4 and fifth seed Caroline Garcia also had few problems against Yulia Putintseva, winning 6-3 6-4.

However, it was not a good day for 10th seed Petra Kvitova, who was beaten 7-6 (11-9) 6-1 by Jule Niemeier, while 13th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia also lost, 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 to Mirra Andreeva and 20th seed Donna Vekic was eliminated in straight-sets by Rebeka Masarova.

Jelena Ostapenko took just 61 minutes to get past Linda Fruhvirtova 6-0 6-3, and will face 14th seed Liudmila Samsonova next, who did not take much longer to see off Maryna Zanevska 6-2 6-3.

There were also wins for Elise Mertens, Badosa, Camila Osorio, Shelby Rogers, Mayar Sherif, Magda Linette and Irina-Camelia Begu.

Iga Swiatek is delighted by the consistency levels she is demonstrating after completing a successful defence of her Porsche Tennis Grand Prix title on Sunday.

The world number one overcame Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka 6-3 6-4 to become the first back-to-back winner of the Stuttgart crown since Angelique Kerber (2015 and 2016).

Swiatek, who was appearing in her first tournament after a rib injury, claimed her second silverware of the season, in which she also completed a successful title defence in Doha.

The Pole has plenty of ranking points to defend this term having won eight titles during a dominant 2022 campaign.

Swiatek was also a finalist in Dubai and, despite a fourth-round exit at the Australian Open, she is pleasantly surprised to have started 2023 in a similar vein of form.

"Honestly, the beginning of the season was so tough that I'm happy to be in that place now," Swiatek said during her post-match press conference.

"I just hope I'm going to continue having that good mindset without looking at all this stuff [defending points]. I was able to do that here. I really like playing on clay, so I just hope I'm going focus on just playing.

"I'm just pretty proud of my consistency, because when I was consistent on another level, it was nice, but this level, it's even over my expectations.

"Last year was really, really tough, and I felt like this season may be tough because of what people are saying and expectations from the outside. Also, I knew how it is to win these tournaments in a row. 

"Now, I feel like I just can use my experience a little bit more. I'm just happy that I'm world number one for more than a year, and it's an exciting time."

Iga Swiatek scooped her 13th career title with a statement victory against Aryna Sabalenka in Sunday's Stuttgart Open final.

The world number one has seen her dominance take a dip this season, with Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina emerging as serious candidates to displace her at the top of the women's game.

However, Swiatek is the queen on clay and illustrated her prowess with a 6-3 6-4 win at the tournament that rewards its champion not only with a cheque for $120,150 and trophy, but also a Porsche.

This success made Swiatek the first player to defend the Stuttgart title since Angelique Kerber's back-to-back 2015 and 2016 triumphs, and it came in her first tournament back after a rib injury.

The 21-year-old Polish player entered the title match having said she and Ons Jabeur are the tour's best players on clay, and that put her there to be shot at by Australian Open winner Sabalenka, who has climbed to second place in the rankings.

This was the first time a tour-level final has featured the top two women in the world rankings since the 2018 Australian Open final, when Simona Halep beat Caroline Wozniacki.

It was also a repeat of last year's Stuttgart final that Swiatek won comprehensively, dropping only four games, amid a 37-match winning run that would bring her a second French Open title.

The traffic was not quite so one-way this time, but Swiatek was terrific and did not drop serve once.

For Sabalenka, the outcome meant a third consecutive defeat in Stuttgart title matches, having also lost in the 2021 showpiece to Ash Barty.

After Swiatek surged through the opener, she forced a break point at the start of the second set and a Sabalenka double fault handed over the advantage.

Unforced errors were costing the Belarusian, who could not capitalise on a break point in the fourth game of the second set, going on to fling a desperate forehand wide to hand over a 3-1 lead.

Swiatek took evasive action to avoid a fierce Sabalenka smash in the next game, after initially charging towards the net, but she remained firmly in charge.

The title was secured with a ruthless love game on serve, an outmanoeuvred Sabalenka left to watch her opponent drill away a backhand into an empty court.

Reflecting on her injury lay-off, Swiatek said: "It's been such an intense time in the last couple of weeks and tough decisions sometimes, but I'm so happy we're making the right decisions."

Sabalenka, who during the week made no secret of her eagerness to win the Porsche, said: "I'll keep coming back until I get the car."

Defending champion Iga Swiatek will face Aryna Sabalenka in the Stuttgart Open final after Ons Jabeur was forced to retire from their semi-final with a left calf injury.

World number one Swiatek was 3-0 up against Jabeur when her tearful opponent called a medical timeout and ultimately ended the contest early.

It sets up a mouthwatering showdown between top seed Swiatek and second seed Sabalenka, who defeated Anastasia Potapova in straight sets earlier on Saturday.

Jabeur, who struggled to shake off the injury sustained in the first game, said: "The third point, I don't know what happened.

"I was really excited to play Iga today – it's always a fun match between us. I wish her the best luck for the final. I'm sorry guys, I really tried to run, but Iga never makes it easy."

Sabalenka, a beaten finalist in the past two years, held her serve in the opening set against Potapova and twice broke her unseeded opponent to take the lead.

The Belarusian raced 4-0 ahead in the second set and saw out a comfortable 6-1 6-2 victory in a little under an hour to reach her fourth final of the year.

"I think I was really focused, and I think from the very first point I was playing really aggressive," Sabalenka said in her on-court interview. "I didn't give [Potapova] much time. 

"I think that's why the match finished like that quick. But anyway, she's a great player, and I think in the future she's going to be a top player."

Swiatek defeated Sabalenka in last year's Stuttgart final 6-2 6-2 and is aiming to become the first player to defend the title since Angelique Kerber in 2016.

It was a day for comebacks at the Stuttgart Open, with number one seed Iga Swiatek recovering from a set down to beat Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-finals.

Swiatek made a disastrous start, going 4-0 down, and though she broke back once, was unable to find the second as Pliskova took the opening frame 6-4.

The determined Pole stepped up a level though to take the second 6-1, before breaking early in the third.

It was still an improvement for the Czech player, who lost 6-0 6-0 to Swiatek in their only previous meeting in Rome in 2021.

Pliskova kept her opponent honest on her own serve, but Swiatek had too much for the world number 17 as she clinched the decider 6-2.

Aryna Sabalenka also showcased her powers of recovery as she beat Paula Badosa despite going a set down.

The second seed won 4-6 6-4 6-4 in an even contest that saw nine breaks of serve, before the Belarusian eventually got over the line.

Sabalenka is now the player with the joint-most comeback wins over the last two seasons (13) level with Caroline Garcia, though the French star was actually the victim of a comeback herself on Friday.

Garcia won the first set against Anastasia Potapova, before the Russian came back to take it 4-6 6-3 6-3 to set up a semi against Sabalenka.

There was no need for such drama from Ons Jabeur, who eased to a 6-3 6-0 victory against Beatriz Haddad Maia in just 68 minutes to confirm a clash with Swiatek.

Ons Jabeur forged a comeback win over Jelena Ostapenko to get her Stuttgart Open campaign off to a flying start.

Jabeur endured an injury-hit start to 2023 but bounced back with a victory in Charleston and made it six wins on the bounce by overcoming Latvian Ostapenko 1-6 7-6 6-3 on Wednesday.

Next up for Jabeur is a potential quarter-final tie with Elena Rybakina – a rematch of last year's Wimbledon final.

Rybakina, who won the Indian Wells Open in March, came up trumps on that occasion, fighting back to win 3-6 6-2 6–2.

The Kazakh, seeded sixth, overcame German Jule Niemeier 7-5 6-3 in the round of 32 and will now face Beatriz Haddad Maia in the last 16.

World number two Aryna Sabalenka also booked her progression to the last eight, beating 2021 French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova 6-2 6-3.

Coco Gauff, meanwhile, claimed her first victory in Stuttgart as she overcame a tough test from Veronika Kudermetova.

Gauff, the world number five, was taken to a deciding tie-break but ultimately prevailed 6-2 4-6 7-6 (7-3). The American will face Anastasia Potapova in the next round.

Former world number one Karolina Pliskova defeated Maria Sakkari in straight sets in Wednesday's other encounter.

 

 

Paula Badosa believes she can break back into the world's top three after cruising past Daria Kasatkina at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, where Emma Raducanu crashed out on Tuesday.

Seventh seed Kasatkina had no answers in Stuttgart as she fell to a 6-1 6-1 defeat against Badosa, who recorded the ninth top-10 victory of her career and first in exactly 12 months.

Badosa has won 29 clay-court matches in the last three seasons – only Ons Jabeur (35) and Iga Swiatek (30) have won more – but the Spaniard had to enter this tournament as a wildcard.

The 25-year-old was as high as second in the world last year but has fallen to 31st, and she outlined her goal to reach the top once more after her first-round win set up an all-Spanish meeting with Cristina Bucsa.

When asked about her ambitions to return to the world's top three, Badosa said: "That's what I'm working on every day. That's one of my goals – I want to be back on the top.

"I like to play big matches, I like to be in the last rounds of the tournaments. I still know I have that level. I still know I was that player. I still believe in myself, and I hope I'm back there very soon."

Jelena Ostapenko eased into the second round with similar dominance after downing Raducanu 6-2 6-1 in just 58 minutes, teeing up a meeting with world number four Ons Jabeur on Wednesday.

Latvian Ostapenko powered 19 forehand winners and went unbroken, acknowledging in her on-court interview that familiar aggression was key to her success in the battle of two one-time grand slam winners.

"I knew against her the main thing was to step in the court," said former French Open winner Ostapenko. "I missed some balls, but I tried to be aggressive all the time when it was possible.

"Just try to take the ball early, don't give her many chances. And finally, I'm back on clay, my favourite surface."

Barbora Krejcikova was another straight-sets winner, scoring a 6-2 6-0 triumph over Liudmila Samsonova, with the reward for the 2021 Roland Garros champion being a tricky clash against second seed and Australian Open winner Aryna Sabalenka.

There was no such ease for Anastasia Potapova in a battling 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-4) victory over Petra Martic, the Russian's ninth third-set win in 2023 – no WTA Tour player has managed more.

Tatjana Maria overcame Ylena In-Albon 6-2 4-6 7-6 (7-4) in another enticing clash, while Beatriz Haddad Maia advanced after Martina Trevisan was forced to retire when trailing 7-5 1-1 due to a right thigh injury.

World number 74 Sorana Cirstea produced a major shock in the Miami Open quarter-finals after toppling 2023 Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets on Wednesday.

The 32-year-old Romanian triumphed 6-4 6-4 over the in-form Belarusian to progress to her first WTA-1000 semi-final for a decade, dating back to the 2013 Canadian Open in Toronto.

World number two Sabalenka came into the contest as the highest remaining seed after Iga Swiatek's withdrawal, having won a tour-leading 20 matches this season.

But Cirstea blew Sabalenka away in one hour and 27 minutes, maintaining her fine run in Miami where she has not dropped a set in five matches.

Sabalenka hit more winners than Cirstea (21-16) but the Romanian was more polished, committing only nine unforced errors compared to the Australian Open winner's 21.

Cirstea broke Sabalenka in the first game of each set and showed resolve when she served out victory from 15-40 down.

"I think I'm a bit speechless," Cirstea said after the match. "I came out knowing that it's going to be a really tough match. Aryna hits so hard, so I knew I had to hold my ground, and I'm very, very happy with my performance today."

Cirstea's list of scalps includes fifth seed Caroline Garcia, former top 20 player Karolina Muchova and now Sabalenka.

The Romanian also reached the quarter-finals at the Indian Wells Open a fortnight ago, losing to Swiatek in the last eight.

Cirstea will need to wait to learn her semi-final opponent with the quarter-final between 15th seed Petra Kvitova and 18th Ekaterina Alexandrova re-scheduled to Thursday after the evening session was cancelled due to persistent rain.

Reigning Wimbledon and Indian Wells Open champion Elena Rybakina extended her winning streak to 11 matches with Monday's 6-4 6-3 victory over Elise Mertens in the Miami Open fourth round.

Rybakina, 23, has been one of the most in-form talents in the sport this year, with her only two losses since the start of the Australian Open coming in three-setters against Aryna Sabalenka and Beatriz Haddad Maia.

The Kazakhstan representative produced 10 aces against Mertens on her way into the quarter-finals, becoming the first player this WTA season to finish with at least 10 aces in three consecutive matches.

She will look to keep her sparkling form alive when she meets Martina Trevisan for a spot in the semi-finals, after the Italian got the better of Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 6-3.

Sabalenka showed why she is the top remaining seed after Iga Swiatek's withdrawal, beating 16th seed Barbora Krejcikova 6-3 6-2. Krejcikova was one of two players this season to beat Sabalenka – with Rybakina the other – and by avenging that defeat the Belarusian improved her record in 2023 to 20-2.

America's top hope Jessica Pegula needed only 79 minutes to eliminate Magda Linette 6-1 7-5, winning the first five games of the match to set the tone early, and she will now meet Russia's Anastasia Potapova in the quarters.

Potapova finished with just one ace compared to Qinwen Zheng's nine, but she showed enough guile to overcome the Chinese international's power advantage.

Romania's Sorana Cirstea kept her great run going with a 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 triumph over Marketa Vondrousova, making it eight wins from her past nine matches, and Bianca Andreescu was forced to retire through injury while down a set 7-6 (7-0) 0-2 against Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Aryna Sabalenka needed just 68 minutes to dispatch Marie Bouzkova 6-1 6-2 in Sunday's third round of the Miami Open.

Sabalenka hit 26 winners in the victory and now has 250 at WTA 1000 level for the season, representing one of only two female players with more than 200 in 2023.

The world number two, who is the top seed in the tournament after Iga Swiatek's withdrawal, has now won 19 of her past 21 matches, with her only losses in that span to Elena Rybakina and Barbora Krejcikova.

She will get the chance to avenge that loss to Krejcikova next after the Czech Republic representative knocked out hometown star Madison Keys 7-6 (7-4) 6-3.

Former French Open winner Krejcikova registered her 10th WTA 1000 level win against Keys, becoming only the second player to achieve that this season.

Former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin fell 6-4 6-4 to Canada's Bianca Andreescu, who continued her strong run after previously knocking out seventh seed Maria Sakkari and 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu.

In a serve-dominated match, 2019 US Open champion Andreescu sent down seven aces, maintaining 70 per cent first serve percentage.

Ninth seed and former Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic was eliminated 7-6 (10-8) 6-3 by 18th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, who will take on Andreescu in the next round.

Marketa Vondrousova won her all-Czech matchup against 17th seed Karolina Pliskova, and their compatriot Petra Kvitova enjoyed a 6-4 7-6 (7-3) triumph over recent Monterrey Open champion Donna Vekic.

Romania's Sorana Cirstea made it seven wins from her past eight matches with a 7-5 6-1 result over Karolina Muchova, having knocked off fifth seed Caroline Garcia in the second round.

Varvara Gracheva ensured a strong day for the Russians with a 6-1 6-2 demolition of Magdalena Frech in a battle of two unseeded players.

Top 10 seeds Ons Jabeur, Caroline Garcia and Maria Sakkari were all eliminated in a day of upsets in the Miami Open second round on Friday.

Qualifier Varvara Gracheva earned her first career top-five win by beating 2022 Wimbledon and US Open finalist Jabeur 6-2 6-2 in only 67 minutes.

Fifth seed Caroline Garcia also crashed out, losing 6-2 6-3 to 74th-ranked Sorana Cirstea, having also recently beaten the Frenchwoman at Indian Wells.

Bianca Andreescu came from a set down to beat seventh seed Maria Sakkari 5-7 6-3 6-4 in a match that lasted over three hours.

Andreescu displayed some of the form that saw her lift the 2019 US Open title, fighting back from a set down and proving composed in the big moments.

The Canadian, who is ranked 31st, will take on 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the third round.

Second seed Aryna Sabalenka had few problems against Shelby Rogers, winning 6-4 6-3 in one hour and 17 minutes. Sabalenka will next face 31st seed Marie Bouzkova.

The 2023 Australian Open champion has won 65 main draw matches in WTA-1000 events, which equals Marion Bartoli and Ashleigh Barty at the 30th place since 2009 for the most wins at this level.

Indian Wells winner Elena Rybakina beat Anna Kalinskaya 7-5 4-6 6-3, and Petra Kvitova eased past compatriot Linda Noskova 6-3 6-0.

Ninth seed Belinda Bencic dropped just two games as she cruised past Leylah Fernandez 6-1 6-1, and will face Ekaterina Alexandrova next as the 18th seed needed three to get past Taylor Townsend.

Veronika Kudermetova was eliminated by Marketa Vondrousova 6-4 6-2, who goes up against Karolina Pliskova in round three after she eased past Wang Xinyu in straight sets.

Emma Raducanu was bundled out of the Miami Open in the first round by form US Open champion Bianca Andreescu in a three-set match that lasted two hours and 35 minutes on Wednesday.

The Briton, who won the US Open in 2021, went down 6-3 3-6 6-2 in a genuine tug-of-war against the 31st-ranked Canadian.

Andreescu sent down seven aces for the match, including four in the first set along with 12 winners as she claimed an early lead.

Raducanu responded with greater aggression, securing the crucial break in the eighth game, before serving out to level the contest.

But Andreescu showed composure and quality in the big points in the final set, winning the final four games to round out the victory, sealing a second-round clash with seventh seed Maria Sakkari.

Andreescu finished with 32 winners compared to Raducanu's 20, while the Briton committed 40 unforced errors.

World number 42 Shelby Rogers edged out USA compatriot Sloane Stephens in just under two hours, winning 6-4 3-6 6-2. Rogers will take on second seed Aryna Sabalenka, who is arguably the tournament favourite after top seed Iga Swiatek's withdrawal, in the next round.

Rogers was one of five Americans to progress, including 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin who defeated Australia's Storm Hunter 6-0 7-6 (7-5).

World number 35 Amanda Anisimova retired down 7-6 (7-5) 5-2 to countrywoman Madison Brengle.

Leylah Fernandez, the player whom Raducanu beat in the 2021 US Open final, advanced into the second round with a 6-4 6-3 victory over Lesia Tsurenko in 88 minutes.

Aryna Sabalenka received "hate" in the dressing room after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Sabalenka finished as runner-up at Indian Wells last week, losing to Elena Rybakina, who she defeated in the Australian Open final in January.

Born in Belarus, an ally of Russia, the 24-year-old revealed ahead of her Miami Open campaign that "weird conversations" had come from members of other players' teams, rather than her fellow pros.

"It was really tough for me because I've never faced that much hate in the locker room," she said. "There are a lot of haters on Instagram when you're losing matches, but in the locker room I've never faced that.

"I had some, not like fights, but I had some weird conversations with, not the girls, but with members of their team. It was tough. It was a tough period. But now it's getting better.

"It was really tough to understand that there's so many people who hate me for no reason. I did nothing."

Players from Russia and Belarus have been classed as neutral since the invasion, and were banned from last year's Wimbledon.

Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko pulled out of her match against Sabalenka at Indian Wells after suffering a panic attack following a conversation she had with WTA chief executive Steve Simon about tennis's response to the invasion.

World number one Iga Swiatek had called for greater support for Ukrainian players as a result of the conflict but another Belarusian, Victoria Azarenka, disagreed.

"There are certain players that have different feelings and behaviours. Overall, I don't necessarily share the same opinion as Iga does," Azarenka said.

"I'd encourage her to look at the things that have been done before she makes comments. As a player council member I'm happy to provide the facts. That would be a more appropriate way to have that conversation."

Elena Rybakina is targeting consistency and staying fit over becoming world number one, for now.

Rybakina defeated world number two Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 (13-11) 6-4 on Sunday to clinch the Indian Wells Open title.

It brought up a fourth singles title of her career, her maiden WTA 1000 trophy and her first success since winning Wimbledon last year.

Rybakina overcame Iga Swiatek in the last four, making her the first player since Garbine Muguruza at the 2017 Western & Southern Open to beat the world number one and two in the semi-finals and final of a single tournament.

The Kazakh will rise to world number seven after her success in the Californian desert, but when asked if the top of the rankings was her next target, Rybakina told Amazon Prime: "I'll try but first of all I just want to have the consistency, the most important thing is to stay healthy because it's still the beginning of the year.

"If I continue like this I have all the chance to be higher in the top 10, we'll see how it's going to go."

She added: "It feels amazing. I didn't expect two sets, I thought it would be a three-set battle. It wasn't easy, it was a bit windy, I lost the two games, I was getting nervous, but I managed to sort it out."

The two games Rybakina referred to came in the second set, when she went from 5-2 up to 5-4 before regaining her composure.

Rybakina had also come out on top in an almighty tussle in the first-set tie-break, with Sabalenka unable to then rediscover her best form during the second set.

Sunday's success marked Rybakina's first victory over Sabalenka – who she lost to in the final of this season's Australian Open – in five attempts.

Though Sabalenka is not planning on losing another one, as the Belarusian comically interjected during Rybakina's post-match on-court interview.

"I'll make sure it was the last one," Sabalenka quipped after Rybakina had explained "it was the first time it went my way" in a meeting with the 24-year-old.

"It's been always a pleasure to play against you and always the toughest battle," Rybakina continued.

"Hopefully I'll be back next year to defend this result."

Sabalenka was courteous in defeat, saying: "First of all Elena I want to congratulate you and your team on another amazing week. Hopefully we'll play in many more finals, hopefully next time it'll go to me!"

However, she was already focusing on putting the defeat behind her, with the Miami Open next up.

"For me it's quite easy. I think it's gonna stay in my head until tomorrow, and tomorrow we are flying to Miami and I will forget this one," she told reporters.

"The thing is helping me to stay focused and to keep winning is just to focus on myself and focus on the game and focus on things what I have to do on court to keep winning.

"This one was tough, especially in the finals, it's always tough to lose. You're one step to the trophy and you lose it. This one is really tough. But she's a great player."

The last five WTA titles at Indian Wells have now been won by players yet to turn 24, while Rybakina became the 25th female player to win the title.

Elena Rybakina gained a measure of revenge for her Australia Open final defeat as she beat Aryna Sabalenka to claim the Indian Wells Open title.

Rybakina lost 4-6 6-3 6-4 to Sabalenka in Melbourne in January, but the world number 10, who will move up three places in the WTA rankings now, came out on top 7-6 (13-11) 6-4 on Sunday to clinch her first triumph at a WTA 1000 tournament.

It marks a fourth singles title of Rybakina's career, and her first since her maiden grand slam success at Wimbledon last year. She had not beaten Sabalenka in four previous attempts.

Having defeated Iga Swiatek in the last four, Rybakina is the first player to defeat the world number one and two in the semi-finals and final of a tournament since Garbine Muguruza at the 2017 Western & Southern Open.

Ten double faults marred Sabalenka's first set, though the Belarusian initially nosed ahead by claiming the first break of serve in the fifth game – albeit a shanked forehand that flew over Rybakina's head had more than a touch of fortune about it.

Rybakina broke back but saw a set point go begging at 6-5 up. A remarkable tussle followed in the tie-break, Sabalenka earning a set point with a sublime winner before a wild double-fault and a rash backhand gifted her opponent a chance.

Yet Rybakina too double-faulted as neither player was able to find the composure needed to get themselves ahead until, at the fifth time of asking, the eventual champion held her nerve.

Perhaps drained by her first-set exploits, Sabalenka – who was evidently emotional when she returned to the court after a short break – offered no resistance as Rybakina broke her with ease in the first game of the second set.

She did make Rybakina fend off two break points, and then saved two herself, in the fourth and fifth games, though a double break saw the Kazakh move to within a game of victory.

Sabalenka's resolve returned, the world number two reeling off eight of the next nine points to drag herself back to 5-4, yet Rybakina gathered herself on her next serve.

A cool forehand teed up match point, which was taken at the first opportunity when Sabalenka clipped a return straight into the net.

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