Top-seed Sabalenka, past champ Keys advance in Charleston
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Top-seeded Aryna Sabalenka won for the first time since late February, outlasting American Alison Riske 7-6 (3), 6-4 on Wednesday in the weather-delayed Credit One Charleston Open.
Second-seeded Paula Badosa of Spain and third-seeded Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic also advanced to the third round at the season’s first clay-court event.
No. 5 seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan wasn’t so fortunate, falling to Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.
The weather continued to be a problem as the match between fourth-seeded Ons Jabeur and American Emma Navarro was suspended with Jabeur, of Tunisia, leading 6-3, 5-2 before lightning and heavy rain hit the facility.
Sabalenka, of Belarus, had lost her opening matches at Indian Wells and Miami after falling to new No. 1 Iga Swiatek in quarterfinals at Qatar six weeks ago.
Still, Sabalenka needed nearly two hours to make it past Riske. Sabalenka led 5-3 in the opening set before Riske forced a tiebreaker. Sabalenka eventually pulled away and won five of the final six points in the tiebreak.
Badosa, of Spain, defeated Anna Bondar of Hungary 6-1, 6-4 and Pliskova of the Czech Republic topped Katarina Zavatska of Ukraine 5-7, 7-5, 6-4.
Other seeded winners included No. 6 Jessica Pegula, No. 9 Madison Keys, No. 10 Belinda Bencic and No. 12 Alize Cornet.
American Pegula ousted Italian Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-1, and Keys of the United States beat Norway’s Ulrikke Eikeri 6-3, 6-1.
Keys was supposed to start Tuesday night until bad weather postponed things. She said it was important to get going quickly against Eikeri.
“I didn’t want things to kind of get off track after having that sort of delay,” said Keys, who won this event in 2019. “So I was just super focused in the first couple of games and felt like my level raised.”
Bencic, who won Olympic gold in Tokyo, defeated Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 7-6 (6). Cornet of France bested American Hailey Baptiste 6-3, 6-2.
Three other seeded players lost Wednesday: No. 14 Ajla Tomljanovic and No. 16 Shuai Zhang of China.
Tomljanovic fell to Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu 6-2, 6-3 while Zhang lost in three sets to American Claire Liu 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.
The season’s first clay-court event had a full schedule after several of Tuesday’s matches were wiped out due to rain and severe weather in the area. The tournament might have more trouble catching up Thursday as rain is forecast into the afternoon.
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