China's national anthem was played twice on the Hangzhou Asian Games tennis court, for young stars Zheng Qinwen and Zhang Zhizhen respectively.
Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus defeated American Sloane Stephens 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals of the San Diego Open here on Thursday.
Also on Thursday Madison Keys reached the San Diego quarterfinals by taking down No.8 seed Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 6-3 and notching the 250th tour-level win of her career while No.2 seed Paula Badosa eased into the quarterfinals with a 6-0, 6-3 dismissal of qualifier Louisa Chirico. Badosa required only 53 minutes to eliminate World No.196 Chirico.
No.3 seed Sabalenka stormed back from a first-set rout to win the match in 2 hours and maintain her undefeated record against Stephens. Sabalenka is now 3-0 over 2017 US Open champion Stephens, with all of those wins going to a decisive third set.
In her first match since making her second straight US Open semifinal (following a first-round bye this week), Sabalenka hit 23 winners to Stephens’ 15.
After splitting the first two sets, Sabalenka took charge in the decider by slamming a return winner to break Stephens at love for 4-2. Sabalenka fell behind 0-40 in the very next game, but she deployed aggressive shots, especially with the serve, to reel off five points in a row and consolidate for 5-2.
Sabalenka broke Stephens for the sixth time in the following game to wrap up the win, lining up a meeting with former Top 20 player Donna Vekic in the quarterfinals. Vekic, who qualified for the main draw this week, has beaten Sabalenka in four of their five meetings.
Keys, No.13 in the Race to the Finals coming into this week, battled back from 4-0 down in the opening set before clinching victory in 1 hour and 27 minutes. Kasatkina is No.6 in the Race to the Finals but will have to wait a bit longer before her fate is determined.
“I knew that today would be really difficult against Dasha, she’s obviously had a really great season so far and has played some really good tennis,” Keys said. “I’m really glad I was able to get back in that first set and be able to ride that momentum.”
Keys will face her fellow American Jessica Pegula in the quarterfinals. It will be the first meeting on tour between Keys and No.4 seed Pegula.
In another match No.2 seed, Paula Badosa eased into the quarterfinals with a 6-0, 6-3 dismissal of qualifier Louisa Chirico. Badosa required only 53 minutes to eliminate World No.196 Chirico.
Chirico is back in the Top 200 for the first time since 2017, and she earned her first tour-level main-draw win since that year by upsetting Alison Riske-Amritraj in the first round this week.
However, Badosa had already cruised past Chirico once this season, losing just three games in their sole previous meeting, in the first round of Wimbledon. Badosa dropped the same number of games on Thursday, but she had to fight back from a breakdown twice in the second set.