Alcaraz and Sabalenka breeze into the next round at the China Open.


Alcaraz and Sabalenka breeze into the next round at the China Open.

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BEIJING: The China Open witnessed top seeds Carlos Alcaraz and Aryna Sabalenka effortlessly advancing to the next round with commanding victories on Sunday.

In Beijing, Alcaraz secured a spot in the men’s quarter-finals by delivering a polished performance with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti. The world No. 2 showcased his dominance by clinching the first set when Musetti’s baseline backhand found the net. Alcaraz then broke serve twice in the second set, sealing the match with an unreturnable serve.

His next opponent will be Casper Ruud, the world No. 9, who made a remarkable comeback to defeat Argentina’s Tomas Etcheverry 1-6, 7-5, 7-6 (9-7).

Reflecting on his performance, Alcaraz expressed his satisfaction, stating, “I feel great, honestly. It was a good performance against a really tough opponent. My level didn’t fluctuate; I maintained a high level of quality throughout the entire match,” said the 20-year-old.

The issue of match balls remained a topic of discussion in the early rounds of the tournament, with Daniil Medvedev, Alcaraz’s main rival, likening them to “grapefruits.” Alcaraz acknowledged the distinct characteristics of the balls and their tendency to fluff up quickly, adding, “It’s something tough, but tennis players have to get used to the balls in every tournament. Here, in just one or two games, the balls become really different from when they’re new, leading to a unique style of play.”

In another match on Sunday, world No. 7 Jannik Sinner dominated Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka with a resounding 6-2, 6-0 victory. He will face Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinals after Dimitrov upset fourth-ranked Holger Rune 6-3, 7-5.

On the women’s side, world No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka started her campaign in the second round with a dominant 6-1, 6-2 victory over American Sofia Kenin. Sabalenka overwhelmed Kenin with powerful serves and groundstrokes, securing the opening set with an ace in just 23 minutes. She broke serve twice more in the second set as Kenin, playing with heavy strapping on her left thigh, struggled to mount a response.

Sabalenka’s next opponent will be Britain’s Katie Boulter, ranked No. 54 in the world. Reflecting on her performance, Sabalenka said, “Honestly, I didn’t expect to play that well on my serve; in practice, it didn’t work very well. But I was super hyped that I was able to bring that level on my serve today. I think it helped a lot.”


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