Mertens Starts Shenzhen Open Title Bid With Win

SHENZHEN, January 5, 2019 (Press Release)

In the first match of the 2020 Shenzhen Open played on Centre Court, singles third seed Elise Mertens started her year on a winning note with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko in one hour and 32 minutes.

The Belgian world No. 17, who picked up her fifth career title at Doha last year, lost her serve in the very first game but bounced back immediately with two consecutive breaks to take the first set. In a one-sided second set, Mertens did not face a single break point and converted two out of four opportunities to complete her victorious Shenzhen Open debut.

“The first match is always a little tricky, you know, but I think I managed it pretty well and mentally stayed calm. I’m really happy to be here, I like Shenzhen and that’s why I came here in the first place and hopefully I can play many matches here,” said the 24-year-old.

Number five seed Ekaterina Alexandrova also secured a first round win as she disposed 2017 Shenzhen Open champion Katerina Siniakova 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 29 minutes on Court 1.

The Russian, whose only blip came when she lost her serve in the fourth game of the first set, won 83% of her first serve points and fashioned 12 break points against her opponent – converting two in the first set and one in the second for the win.

In-form 18-year-old wild card Wang Xiyu notched one of the biggest wins of her career against Romanian world No.74 Sorana Cirstea this afternoon, reversing a one set deficit to record a commanding 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 first round victory in one hour and 42 mins.

The Chinese rising star raced to a 3-1 lead in the opener but then lost five games in a row to relinquish the first set. However, the world No. 144 then had her opponent on the ropes for the rest of the match with powerful forehand and backhand returns that had Cirstea scrambling around Centre Court – much to the delight of a strong local crowd.

The teenager created 12 break opportunities in the second and third sets, converting five of them, while saving the only other break she faced in the second game of the deciding set.

“Maybe it’s a long time I haven’t played in a tournament so I was a little bit nervous at the start. At 3-1 up, she adjusted her situation to come back and I was a maybe little bit passive. She is aggressive and very strong so I just tried to move and be active all the time, focus on the small details and try to gain an advantage. I tried my best and I am happy to win,” said Wang.

Meanwhile, eighth seeded Chinese Zhang Shuai saved four out of five break points en route to a resounding 6-4, 6-2 victory over Magda Linette in Sunday’s final match on Centre Court. The victory stretches Zhang’s unbeaten streak against her Polish opponent to five games over the last six years.

In other first round matches contested today, Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko defeated Japan’s Misaki Doi 6-4, 6-1 and Wang Yafan completed a clean sweep of wins for local players with a hard fought 1-6, 6-1, 6-3 comeback win over Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo in exactly two hours.

The win marked the first time the 25-year-old Chinese had prevailed over her 23-year-old opponent, having previously lost at Tianjin in 2017 and at Bol in 2018.

In the final round of qualifying today, Russian Margarita Gasparyan, American Nicole Gibbs, Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu and Germany’s Anna-Lena Friedsam secured victories to move into the main draw.

In the only doubles first round match contested on today, third seeded Chinese pair Duan Yingying and Zheng Saisai defeated the German-Swiss combo of Tatjana Maria and Stefanie Voegele 6-3, 3-6, 10-7 in one hour and 26 minutes.

Action to continue on Monday

Four seeded players will be in first round singles action tomorrow, with world No. 11 and singles defending champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus kicking things off on Centre Court at 11am with a first time encounter against Gasparyan.

Their match will be followed by former world No.1 Garbiñe Muguruza’s Shenzhen Open debut against local wild card Wang Xinyu.

Next up on Centre Court, Chinese ace Wang Qiang, who reached a career high of No. 12 last September after a US Open quarterfinal run, will take on Ons Jabeur of Tunisia for the second time on tour – Wang leads the series 1-0.

Meanwhile, exciting 20-year-old Kazakh-Russian Elena Rybakina, who is seeded seventh in her Shenzhen Open debut after a stellar 2019 season that saw her rise almost 150 places to reach a career high of No. 37, will take on local star Zheng Saisai in tomorrow’s first match slated for Court 1 at 11am.

Also in action on Court 1 tomorrow is 2014 runner-up Peng Shuai, who takes on compatriot Zhu Lin, while Czech Kristyna Pliskova takes on qualifier Begu in the first round.

In other first round matches, Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich faces off against German qualifier Friedsam while Shelby Rogers take on qualifier Gibbs in an all-American battle.

Four doubles first round matches will also be contested tomorrow, with the first and second seeded pairs set to take to court.

After suitable rest, top seeds Sabalenka and Mertens will take on the Ukraine-Belarusian pair of Bondarenko and Lidziya Marozava on Court 2, while second seeded Czech duo Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova face off against the German-Russian tandem of Friedsam and Gasparyan in tomorrow’s final match slated for Court 1.

There will be free admission to Court 1 and Court 2 throughout the week. Tickets are available through www.damai.cn