(Reuters) - Belarusian ninth seed Aryna Sabalenka held off a spirited challenge from American Alison Riske to win 6-3 3-6 6-1 and successfully defend her Wuhan Open title on Saturday.
World number 14 Sabalenka raced past her unseeded opponent in the first five games of the final set before sealing victory with her 18th ace of the match.
Sabalenka, who rallied from a set down to beat Riske in the Shenzhen Open final earlier this year, started much more aggressively in Saturday’s final as she claimed five of the first six games before sealing the opening set.
Riske faced nine aces from Sabalenka in the second set but broke serve in the sixth game to force a decider.
However, Sabalenka’s powerful groundstrokes ensured she never faced a break point in the final set as she extended her winning streak in Wuhan to 12 matches.
Sabalenka heads to Beijing next, where she faces either Russian Daria Kasatkina or home favorite Peng Shuai in her opening match.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; editing by Ken Ferris