Sabalenka tops Riske to begin run at Charleston

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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 on Wednesday to start the weather-delayed Credit One Charleston Open.

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

Other seeded winners included No. 3 Karolina Pliskova, No. 6 Jessica Pegula, No. 9 Madison Keys, No. 10 Belinda Bencic and No. 12 Alize Cornet.

Pliskova, who’s from the Czech Republic, topped Katarina Zavatska of Ukraine 5-7, 7-5, 6-4. The American Pegula ousted Jasmine Paolini of Italy 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.

The season’s first clay-court event had a full schedule after several of Tuesday’s matches were wiped out because of rain and severe weather in the area.

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