LINZ, Austria — Aryna Sabalenka overcame a slow start to defeat Jasmine Paolini 6-4, 6-4 Tuesday in the opening round of the season-ending Upper Austria Ladies Linz.
The top-seeded Sabalenka fell 4-1 down in the first set before winning the next five games.
Both players swapped breaks halfway through the second set before Sabalenka broke the 94th-ranked Italian for a fourth time at 4-4 and served out the match in the following game.
The 11th-ranked Sabalenka has won 10 of her last 12 matches, which included a semifinal in Strasbourg in September and her seventh career title in Ostrava in October.
Sabalenka next plays Swiss qualifier Stefanie Voegele, who defeated Viktoria Kuzmova 7-6 (3), 6-3.
In other first-round play, 2018 champion Camila Giorgi outlasted Sara Sorribes Tormo for a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 win in two hours and 38 minutes.
Giorgi, who conceded a 4-1 lead in the second set, double-faulted nine times in the match.
Also, former world No. 2 Vera Zvonareva eased past Marta Kostyuk 6-4, 6-2, while Sorana Cirstea, Arantxa Rus, Jana Fett and Barbora Krejcikova also advanced.
No spectators were allowed in the arena since Austria tightened its anti-coronavirus measures last week.