Last year Aryna Sabalenka defeated then-world-No.17 Ashleigh Barty in the semifinals en route to the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open title and today the defending champion dispatched the Australian at the same stage of the tournament, only that now her opponent is ranked No.1.
The 21-year-old Sabalenka needed one hour and 43 minutes to record her first ever victory over a top-ranked player, extending her win-loss record in the Chinese city of Wuhan to 11-0. Barty, on the other hand, although successful in Wuhan, never got all the way to the title, having reached the final once and semis twice.
What seemed to decide this match was Sabalenka’s superior conversion of break points, as even though her opponent had more opportunities to break, the ninth seed’s percentage was better — Sabalenka finished both sets with a late break, profiting from three out of four break point chances, while she defended four out of five break points she faced.
Sabalenka’s power was not the only problem Barty handled during the semifinal, as the Australian was struggling with discomfort in her left calf. After the match, the top-seeded Barty discussed the injury:
It’s important you look after it over the next 24 to 48 hours. I’m sure it’s nothing that is too alarming. I tried to do the best that I could to protect it in a way without letting it affect my tennis too much. Yeah, there will be no worries.
When it comes to the outcome of the match, Barty commented:
Overall Aryna was the better player today. She was able to control her service games a lot better. I felt at times I was hanging on a little bit. I had to take a lot of risks today to try to manage where I was at. I was more in the match than I deserved to be.
Later on Friday, unseeded Alison Riske reached her first ever Premier final by upsetting two-time Wuhan champion Petra Kvitova. The American came back from a break down in both sets to beat the fifth seed 7-5 7-5.