Wuhan Open 2019: Aryna Sabalenka makes it two titles in a row with win over Riske

Aryna Sabalenka was crowned Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open Champion after beating American Alison Riske, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka (Photo: Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open)

Aryna Sabalenka was crowned Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open Champion on Saturday, becoming the first player to defend the title since the creation of the event in 2014.

She beat American Alison Riske, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, having beaten world No1 Ashleigh Barty in the semis, and No8 Kiki Bertens in the third round.

Belarussian Sabalenka becomes the first back-to-back winner in Wuhan and only the fourth woman in 2019 to defend a WTA title, after Julia Georges (Auckland), Alison Van Uytvanck (Budapest) and Garbine Muguruza (Monterrey).

The 21-year-old has now won 29 of her 35 matches in China and remains unbeaten in Wuhan having won the title on her debut last year. In defending the title, she joins Petra Kvitova (2014 and 2016) as a two-time champion.

In front of an almost capacity crowd of over 13,000 at the Optics Valley International Tennis Center, Sabalenka imposed her game early on Riske to take the first set 6-3. Riske found her range to take the second set, but in the third, Sabalenka regrouped, took an early break to lead 2-0, and used her power game to run away with the set and the match in 1hr 54mins.

Sabalenka said of the match:

“Alison played really well. She’s a great player, big fighter. I knew it’s going to be a tough match. Third set I came out [saying], ‘This is a final, try to do everything you can. Just one match to go, just do your best.’

“I mean, I can’t believe that I defend this title. I couldn’t even imagine that I will be able to do this. Right now, I’m just happy, I can’t believe it’s happened.”

She went on to give her appreciation to the Wuhan crowd:

“I think crowd actually—really help me here a lot. They support me like nobody else. Every time I’m stepping on the court, on the same court, I feel this support. It’s amazing.”

Sabalenka came within one win of adding the doubles title to her Wuhan resume, but after winning the US Open doubles title with Elise Mertens, the duo had their winning streak ended by home favourite Ying-Ying Duan partnered for the first time with Veronika Kudermetova 7-6(3), 6-2.

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