Top-seed Sabalenka, past champ Keys advance in Charleston

TENNIS: MAR 25 Miami Open
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CHARLESTON, S.C. — Top-seeded Aryna Sabalenka won for the first time since late February, outlasting American Alison Riske 7-6 (3), 6-4 in the weather-delayed Charleston Open.

Second-seeded Paula Badosa of Spain and third-seeded Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic also advanced to the third round at the season’s first clay-court event.

No. 5 seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan wasn’t so fortunate, falling to Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.

The weather continued to be a problem as the match between fourth-seeded Ons Jabeur and American Emma Navarro was suspended with Jabeur, of Tunisia, leading 6-3, 5-2 before lightning and heavy rain hit the facility.

Sabalenka, of Belarus, had lost her opening matches at Indian Wells and Miami after falling to new No. 1 Iga Swiatek in quarterfinals at Qatar six weeks ago.

Still, Sabalenka needed nearly two hours to make it past Riske. Sabalenka led 5-3 in the opening set before Riske forced a tiebreaker. Sabalenka eventually pulled away and won five of the final six points in the tiebreak.

Badosa, of Spain, defeated Anna Bondar of Hungary 6-1, 6-4 and Pliskova of the Czech Republic topped Katarina Zavatska of Ukraine 5-7, 7-5, 6-4.

Other seeded winners included No. 6 Jessica Pegula, No. 9 Madison Keys, No. 10 Belinda Bencic and No. 12 Alize Cornet.

American Pegula ousted Italian Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-1, and Keys of the United States beat Norway’s Ulrikke Eikeri 6-3, 6-1.

Keys was supposed to start Tuesday night until bad weather postponed things. She said it was important to get going quickly against Eikeri.

“I didn’t want things to kind of get off track after having that sort of delay,” said Keys, who won this event in 2019. “So I was just super focused in the first couple of games and felt like my level raised.”

Bencic, who won Olympic gold in Tokyo, defeated Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 7-6 (6). Cornet of France bested American Hailey Baptiste 6-3, 6-2.

Three other seeded players lost Wednesday: No. 14 Ajla Tomljanovic and No. 16 Shuai Zhang of China.

Tomljanovic fell to Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu 6-2, 6-3 while Zhang lost in three sets to American Claire Liu 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.

The season’s first clay-court event had a full schedule after several of Tuesday’s matches were wiped out due to rain and severe weather in the area. The tournament might have more trouble catching up Thursday as rain is forecast into the afternoon.

Giron cruises in 3rd set, beats Rybakov at Dallas Open

2023 Australian Open - Day 1
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DALLAS – Marcos Giron advanced to the second round of the Dallas Open with a 6-4, 6-7 (1), 6-1 victory over Alex Rybakov on Tuesday.

The seventh-seeded Giron, who reached the semifinals of the inaugural event a year ago, responded quickly after failing to close out the second set, winning the first five games of the deciding set.

Rybakov broke his fellow American when Giron was serving for the match in the second set. Then Rybakov won the first six points of the second-set tiebreaker.

“I’m really happy with how I was able to reset in the third and just get back to the game plan from the beginning and elevate,” Giron said. “He played well and served well and kind of hung in there.”

Eighth-seeded Adrian Mannarino of France won the final five points of a first-set tiebreaker and the last four games of the second to beat American Steve Johnson 7-6 (6), 6-2.

J.J. Wolf, the No. 6 seed, had little trouble in a 6-3, 6-3 victory over fellow American Brandon Holt.

John Isner, the fifth seed and unofficial tournament host in his hometown event, played later Tuesday. Like Giron, Isner lost in the semifinals last year.

Sock wins at Dallas Open, set to face top-seeded Fritz

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DALLAS – Wild-card entry Jack Sock opened with a 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-4 victory over Ilya Ivashka at the Dallas Open, setting up a second-round meeting with top-seeded fellow American Taylor Fritz.

Sock broke Ivashka’s serve in the final game to win the match. Ivashka fell behind 2-0 to start the final set but broke Sock to get back on serve.

Down a break early in the second set, Ivashka rallied to force the deciding set after Sock cruised in the first-set tiebreaker.

The eighth-ranked Fritz is back for the second Dallas Open after losing in the semifinals as the top seed in the inaugural edition of the indoor hard-court event last year. Defending champion Reilly Opelka isn’t in the field.