Sabalenka topples Barty to stay perfect in Wuhan

Eleven matches into her Wuhan Open career, Aryna Sabalenka has 11 wins and can look forward to another final this weekend.

Wuhan Open champion Aryna Sabalenka   -  Getty Images

Defending champion Aryna Sabalenka reached the Wuhan Open final once more with an excellent straight-sets win over world number one Ashleigh Barty on Friday.

Sabalenka improved to 11-0 in Wuhan after her success last year by earning a clinical 7-5, 6-4 victory, clinched with a glorious backhand winner from out wide.

"I'm so excited to be in the final, especially here," said the Belarusian, who will play Petra Kvitova or Alison Riske. "It doesn't matter who is going to be there, I'll be there for a fight."

It was a disappointing outing for Barty, who has reached a final and two semis in Wuhan without winning, and she will hope there are no lasting issues after struggling with discomfort in her left calf in the second set.

 

Barty dropped serve immediately in the first set but then stuck with her opponent and, in a marathon sixth game, broke back, with Sabalenka unsuccessfully claiming a forehand had gone long when halting a rally on break point.

The Australian dictated play for a time, yet Sabalenka wrestled back control with a hold to love and led again when Barty concluded a sloppy service game with an awful, awry slice.

Sabalenka took her third set point following another tussle at deuce, before withstanding more pressure to keep the second on serve early on.

Barty summoned the trainer for treatment on her calf after five games and, although able to continue, a loose game again proved her undoing, the top seed going long to allow Sabalenka to swiftly serve out the match in style.