Sabalenka beats Riske to keep Wuhan Open title

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WUHAN, China — Aryna Sabalenka beat unseeded American Alison Riske 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in the Wuhan Open final on Saturday to become the tournament’s first back-to-back champion.

Sabalenka joins Petra Kvitova as the only other two-time winner at Wuhan.

“I can’t believe that I defend this title,” Sabalenka said. “I can’t believe it’s happened.”

The ninth-seeded Belarusian won five of the first six games in the first set.

Riske rallied in the second, withstanding nine aces to level the match, but Sabalenka regained control in the decider.

“Third set I came out like `This is a final, try to do everything you can. Just one match to go, just do your best,’ I was just focusing on my game, focusing on each point,” Sabalenka said.

Sabalenka has now won three of her four titles in China, including the Shenzhen Open earlier this year in which she also defeated Riske in a three-set final.

Despite losing, Riske is set to enter the top 30 rankings for the first time in her career at age 29.