WUHAN, September 22, 2019 (Press Release)
Defending champion Aryna Sabalenka progressed to the second round at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open following a 6-1 6-2 victory over countrywoman Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
“I’m happy to be back here. It’s special tournament for me. It’s nice to play here,” said Sabalenka. “Especially with this win today it feels really happy because it’s always tough to start tournament, doesn’t matter if you are defending champion or just start the tournament.”
The pressure of defending a title for the first time this year did not tell on the Belarussian who said that it was actually helpful in her match:
“I don’t think it’s like pressure. Today was the first time I step on the court as a defending champion, but it was nice feelings. I remember some matches from the last year, some tough situation also. The feeling of winning the title was really nice. I think it’s actually help me to maybe bring my best today.”
— WTA (@WTA) September 22, 2019
The No.9 seed needed just 66 minutes to find a way past Sasnovich and book a second round encounter against Danielle Collins, who withstood an impressive fightback from 2015 winner Venus Williams at 0-5 down in the second set, to knock the seven-time Grand Slam champion out of the tournament 7-5 7-6(5).
“I didn’t really play great the entire way through so I wasn’t really happy with my performance even though I got the win. But I was happy to pull it out and sometimes you have to win ugly,” said Collins
Williams however was philosophical in defeat: “I just ran into a better player today but I’m really proud of how I fought, even in the last set I don’t think I’ve ever come back from 0-5 down so that was exhilarating and I’m thankful to have played here in Wuhan after a few years.”
Collins was one of three Americans to win their opening round match on Sunday. Also progressing to the second round were No.10 seed Sloane Stephens, who overcame home hope Zhang Shuai 7-5 6-4 in the first night session match, and Bernarda Pera, who defeated compatriot and qualifier Jennifer Brady 6-4 3-6 6-4.
Former Wuhan Open champion (2017) Caroline Garcia looked in impressive form as she eased past Daria Kasatkina for the loss of just four games 6-2 6-2 while 19-year-old Dayana Yastremska ended Ajla Tomljanovic’s hopes with a 7-6(5) 6-2 triumph.
Elsewhere wildcard Elena Rybakina saw off a strong challenge from Chinese qualifier Lin Zhu 7-5 2-6 6-0 and Barbora Strycova prevailed against Wang Xiyu 6-4 6-6-2.
2019 DONGFENG MOTOR WUHAN OPEN – WUHAN, CHINA
22-28 SEPTEMBER 2019
RESULTS – SEPTEMBER 22, 2019
Singles – First Round
 A. Sabalenka (BLR) d A. Sasnovich (BLR) 61 62
 S. Stephens (USA) d S. Zhang (CHN) 75 64
C. Garcia (FRA) d D. Kasatkina (RUS) 62 62
B. Strycova (CZE) d [WC] Xiy. Wang (CHN) 64 62
[WC] E. Rybakina (KAZ) d [Q] L. Zhu (CHN) 75 26 60
D. Collins (USA) d [WC] V. Williams (USA) 75 76(5)
[Q] B. Pera (USA) d [Q] J. Brady (USA) 64 36 64
P. Hercog (SLO) d J. Pegula (USA) 60 61
D. Yastremska (UKR) d A. Tomljanovic (AUS) 76(5) 62