Defending champ Sabalenka falls to Pliskova, as top seed Bencic bows to Blinkova in Shenzhen

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black friday 2021

In what was the first big upset of the tournament, in-form 21-year-old Anna Blinkova secured the biggest win of her young career by defeating top seed Belinda Bencic 3-6 6-3 6-3 in the first round of the Shenzhen Open. Tuesday’s second match on Centre Court continued in a similar vein as Kristyna Pliskova ousted Belarusian defending champion Aryna Sabalenka with a 6-4 6-4 second-round victory.

Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, top seed at the 2020 Shenzhen Open

At 5-1 up after six games, Swiss ace Belinda Bencic looked on course for a routine victory, but 2015 junior Wimbledon runner-up Anna Blinkova began to find her serving form and started putting her world No.8 opponent under more pressure.

The turning point of the match came in the sixth game of the second set that lasted a total of 16 points – Blinkova saved game point three times before breaking her frustrated opponent on the second time of asking to take a 4-2 lead.

Anna Blinkova
Anna Blinkova, 21, is at a career-high ranking of No.58

In the third set, the young Russian did not face a single break point and converted both the chances she created to complete her first career victory over a Top 10 player.

Aryna Sabalenka
Defending champion Aryna Sabalenka knocked out in the second round

World No.66 Krstyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic put in a composed display against the second-seeded world No.11 Aryna Sabalenka, as she hit 15 aces and converted 60% of the five break chances she had. Most significantly, the 27-year-old saved all 11 break points she faced during the match – nine of which came in her final two games on serve as Sabalenka fought to claw her way back into the match.

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