Aryna Sabalenka defeats Bianca Andreescu, Paula Badosa outlasts Elena Rybakina in Stuttgart
Stuttgart (Germany) : No.3 seed Aryna Sabalenka defeated Bianca Andreescu in the second round of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, triumphing 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 in 1 hour and 52 minutes here on Thursday. Earlier on Centre Court, No.2 seed Paula Badosa had also survived a three-setter, holding off Elena Rybakina 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(4) in 2 hours and 30 minutes. Belarusian Sabalenka, runner-up in Stuttgart last year to Ashleigh Barty, booked her place in her second quarterfinal of 2022 following Doha in February. The 23-year-old is continuing to find her groove after a stuttering start to the year, and improved her overall record to 8-8. This week has marked Andreescu’s return from a six-month hiatus to address her mental health. The Canadian’s tour-level clay experience has been limited so far. Stuttgart was just her fourth WTA main draw on the surface and she owns only one Top 100 win on clay, Vera Lapko in 2018 Roland Garros qualifying.
The only previous time Sabalenka and Andreescu had faced each other was in the very different environment of the Manchester ITF W100 in 2017 on grass, before either player had cracked the Top 100. Sabalenka won that match 2-6, 6-4, 6-3. In another match, Spaniard Badosa’s intensity dipped in the second, while Rybakina improved her first serve percentage from 41 per cent to to 72 percent. Even so, Badosa managed to peg Rybakina’s 4-0 lead back to 4-4 before the Kazakh gathered herself to get over the line. The quality and length of the baseline duels rose in the third set, and Badosa gained the upper hand in most of them as she went up 4-1. This time, it was Rybakina’s turn to chip away at the lead, and there was nothing separating the pair as they headed into the deciding tiebreak. Despite Badosa serving two of her eight double faults in the tiebreak, Rybakina could not take advantage. The World No.19 committed five of her 38 unforced errors in response, including a backhand wide on Badosa’s third match point. Badosa improved her head-to-head against Rybakina to 3-1 with the result, and will next face No.7 seed Ons Jabeur in the quarterfinals.