Aryna Sabalenka outclassed Sofia Kenin 6-1, 6-2 at the China Open on Sunday in her first match as the women’s world No.1 while Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova crashed out after losing 1-6, 6-4, 6-1 to Anhelina Kalinina in Beijing.
Sabalenka, who leapfrogged Iga Swiatek into top spot after her run to last month’s US Open final, returned to action in China and did not face a breakpoint in her tournament opener which she wrapped up in 67 minutes, firing 22 winners.
The win handed Belarusian Sabalenka a measure of redemption following a stunning defeat by the 2020 Australian Open champion in the Rome second round earlier this season.
The 25-year-old top seed, who ignited her career by winning four out of her first five WTA titles in the Asian nation before the Covid-19 crisis, next meets Katie Boulter or Magdalena Frech.
“I’m super happy with the win, I think I played really great tennis today,” Sabalenka said. “I didn’t actually expect to play that good after how many weeks I didn’t play tournaments.”
On the men’s side, world number two Carlos Alcaraz booked his place in the quarter-finals with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Italian Lorenzo Musetti for his 60th victory of the year.
“Today was a perfect match for me,” said Alcaraz, who is making his debut in Beijing. R