Sun, Sep 30, 2018 - Page 11 News List

Sabalenka climbs to No. 16 with win

OUT WITH A WHIMPER:Andy Murray ended his season in the Shenzhen quarter-finals after losing to Fernando Verdasco and pulling out of the China Open citing an injury


Aryna Sabalenka kisses the Wuhan Open trophy after defeating Anett Kontaveit in the singles final yesterday in Wuhan, China.

Photo: AFP

Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus yesterday beat Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit 6-3, 6-3 in the final of the Wuhan Open to claim her second title of the season.

Sabalenka, who won her first title at New Haven last month, served impeccably during her first career meeting with Kontaveit, winning in 1 hour, 12 minutes without facing a break point.

“I want to say first of all, congratulations Anett, you played really well today and I’m sorry,” Sabalenka said. “I think we both showed our best tennis.

Sabalenka showed signs of early nerves and the first five points Kontaveit won all resulted from unforced errors by her opponent, but the Belarusian was clinical when it counted, converting her first break point chance to edge ahead.

She won 78 percent of her first serves and scorched the court from behind the baseline while showing a surprisingly deft touch at the net.

Victory means the Belarusian will rise four places to 16th in the world, above Serena Williams, when the new rankings are released tomorrow.



Former world No. 1 Andy Murray has brought his season to a premature end, pulling out of the China Open in Beijing after reaching the quarter-finals at the Shenzhen Open.

The 31-year-old Briton is battling to regain top form and fitness following hip surgery in January, but British media said that he has suffered a minor ankle problem.

Murray was not included when the China Open draw was made yesterday and also absent was world No. 3 Novak Djokovic, who was offered a wild card.

The China Open — which began yesterday — has been hit by several high-profile pull-outs with Rafael Nadal not involved because of injury, Roger Federer saving himself for Shanghai and Serena Williams also absent.

Murray was beaten 6-4, 6-4 on Friday in Shenzhen by Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco, although he defeated world No. 11 David Goffin in the last 16 for the best win since his comeback.

Murray is to spend the winter working himself back to the sort of fitness levels that saw him capture nine titles in a stellar 2016 campaign.

“It was another three matches, which is positive,” Murray said after losing to Verdasco. “But obviously I want to play better than that, I have higher ambitions than losing in the quarter-finals. I want to try to be better in these events.”



Russia’s Margarita Gasparyan yesterday beat 17-year-old Anastasia Potapova in the Tashkent Open final in the latest step toward reigniting a career stalled by injury.

The 24-year-old Gasparyan, ranked No. 299, prevailed 6-2, 6-1 in 62 minutes to claim her second career WTA title.

Potapova, who is 132nd in the world, made a nervy start losing her first two service games in the first set and the unforced errors kept coming as the match progressed.

The teenager was in tears on the sidelines at one point during a contest that many had expected to be less one-sided after she beat Gasparyan in their first-ever meeting earlier this year.

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