Two-Time Previous Finalist Riske Storms Into Shenzhen Open Title Match

SHENZHEN, January 5, 2019

The early semifinals held at the Shenzhen Longgang Sports Centre this morning yielded positive results for higher ranked players as World No.13 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and American world No.62 Alison Riske notched comfortable victories to set up a finals clash later this afternoon.

On Centre Court, Sabalenka defeated China’s world No.70 Wang Yafan 6-2, 6-1 in one hour 2 minutes to reach her sixth career WTA Tour finals and fifth since April 2018.

The 20-year-old did not drop a single game and saved all four break points she faced in the second set, while her 24-year-old opponent, cheered on my local fans, struggled to make an impact on the match and had to call for a medical timeout early in the second set to attend to her left thigh.

“Of course I’m so happy with this performance. I would like to say it was not an easy match, because she was always trying to get back into the game, even when she was down 0-5. She had a little bit of an injury and I hope she will get better soon. I played against (Alison) once and she’s a great player and it should be a great match. I will do my best to get this trophy. See you in a few hours!” said the Belarusian on court after her win.

Riske got off to a flying start in her Court 1 semifinal match against wild card Vera Zvonareva, racing to 6-0, 1-0 lead before her 34-year-old Russian opponent retired with a left hip injury after 37 minutes.

The American is in her third final in four years here in Shenzhen, and will be hoping to turn the tables against the hard-hitting Sabalenka, to whom she lost in the 2018 Rome Masters clay court semifinals.

“I didn’t even really think about it, but yeah, it’s awesome to be in another final here. I was playing solid tennis. It is unfortunate that (Vera) had a tough time. She obviously had a great tournament, an awesome comeback in general. It is nice to have her back on tour. It’s going to be a battle (against Aryna), it is going to be brutal. She is playing big tennis right now and she’s had an amazing last 12 months. It will be a battle so we’ll see who comes out on top,” said the 28-year-old.

Sabalenka, the 2018 New Haven and Wuhan singles champ, will be looking to pick up her third career title, while Alison will be gunning for her first title since Wuhan ‘14, losing in all of her five other final appearances.

The singles finals are slated to take place after 2pm on Centre Court, followed by the doubles final match that will feature three Chinese players.

Second seeded local duo Peng Shuai and Yang Zhaoxuan will take on the Chinese-Czech duo of Duan Yingying and Renata Voracova, with both pairs playing in their first finals as partners.