WTA Tour

Sabalenka beats sick Azarenka to win Ostrava Open

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Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka
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Third seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus won the Ostrava Open WTA tournament after beating her visibly struggling compatriot Victoria Azarenka in straight sets on Sunday.

World number 12 Sabalenka took only an hour and eight minutes to ease past 14th-ranked Azarenka 6-2, 6-2.

It was Sabalenka's second title this year after a win at the Qatar Open in February, before the coronavirus pandemic broke out.

"I'm happy with this week, it was a thrilling week for me and I'm really happy with this result," Sabalenka said in the empty ice hockey arena.

The first-ever all-Belarusian final on the WTA Tour offered a fierce battle from the start with both showing the best of their offensive styles.

The 22-year-old Sabalenka started on a high and earned two break points in the first game, but Azarenka survived the scare and they both held on to their serve until 2-2.

But Sabalenka turned out the more aggressive of the two as she then broke Azarenka's serve to love before adding another break two games later to win the set.

"I would say that the first six games were really tough, she played really well and she made me move," said Sabalenka.

"After each point I was really tired, she pushed me a lot in this match."

Playing her 40th WTA final, Azarenka won the first game of the second set before losing the next two as she visibly started struggling with an apparent health problem, finding it hard to move.

The former world number one and this year's US Open finalist took a medical timeout for work on her neck.

"I don't know what happened with her, but you have to stay focused and you have to keep thinking what you are doing on the court," Sabalenka said.

"So I just tried to stay focused, make sure I hit clean shots."

The 31-year-old Azarenka then returned to the court, despite looking dizzy and struggling with her movement.

She lost another two games before suddenly breaking Sabalenka's serve to cut the gap to 4-2.

"There were winners from her shots, she closed her eyes and hit every point and I couldn't do anything," Sabalenka said.

But that turned out to be a momentary lapse from the energetic youngster who took the break back and then won the match with another game to love.

Sabalenka is now due to play the doubles final with Elise Mertens, facing Gabriela Dabrowski and Luisa Stefani later on Sunday.

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