Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus continued her recent run of success with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit on Saturday to win the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan (China) Open title.
Sabalenka, who earned her maiden WTA title at this summer’s Connecticut Open, has now won 25 of her last 32 matches and will jump up to a career-best world ranking of No. 16 next week.
“It was great tennis today,” Sabalenka said. “This is one of my favorite places to play. I really enjoy to be here. Always play well here.”
At 20 years old, Sabalenka is the youngest player among the top 50 in the rankings.
“It’s a lot of things,” she said of her improved play this summer. “I just start to be more calm on the court, don’t try to go aggressive with every shot, try to find a way.”
Kontaveit, ranked 27th currently, will rise to a career-best 21st when the new rankings are released.
Sabalenka struggled briefly — she had six unforced errors in the first two games — but eventually settled in and used her power to take control of the match. She didn’t face a break point through the match.
With her second title secured, Sabalenka improves to 2-3 in five WTA finals.
Russian Margarita Gasparyan beat compatriot and doubles partner Anastasia Potapova 6-2, 6-1 to win her second career singles title.
Ranked 299th in the world, Gasparyan, 24, is the second-lowest ranked title-winner in WTA history. She’ll move into the top 200 in next week’s rankings.
“When I entered this event I wanted to just play a tournament, I didn’t think I will win the title,” Gasparyan told the media afterward. “My goal was to play a lot of matches, I didn’t expect I would go far here.”
Potapova, 17, was overwhelmed against her partner from the start — being broken in the first game and failing to get on the board until she was already trailing 4-0.
“It’s been a amazing week for me,” said Potapenko, who was playing in her second final this year. “Most importantly I got to play many matches and I feel more confident. I have had a busy week playing singles and doubles, and really feel tired.”
With the victory, Gasparyan is now 1-1 against Potapenko, who won in straight sets earlier this year in their only prior meeting.
The pair lost in the semifinals of doubles play on Friday, falling 4-6, 6-2, 10-6 against the top-seeded team of Irina-Camelia Begu and Raluca Olaru, both of Romania.
Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic dropped 10 of her first 11 games before rallying to upset No. 6 seed Elina Svitolina, 0-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4) in first-round action in Beijing.
Svitolina, from the Ukraine, took the first set in under half an hour and won the first nine games overall before allowing Krunic to gather momentum and steal the second set.
In other seeded play, two-time Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova, of the Czech Republic — the fifth seed — was ousted by unseeded Australian Daria Gavrilova 6-2, 6-1; Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko, seeded 12th, held off Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4, 7-6 (3); and Germany’s Julia Goerges, seeded 10th, was tested by Britain’s Johanna Konta but eventually prevailed 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.
—Field Level Media