Sat, 23 Sep 2023

Paris [France], May 28 (ANI): The No. 2 seeded Aryna Sabalenka got her French Open 2023 campaign off to a winning note, coming from an early breakdown to get the better out of Marta Kostyuk 6-3, 6-2 in the first round.

It took just one hour and 11 minutes for Sabalenka to win the first round of the ongoing Grand Slam against Kostyuk.

Australian Open winner Sabalenka has the opportunity to capture the World No.1 ranking for the first time this fortnight. Sabalenka will next lock horns with the qualifier Iryna Shymanovich, who celebrated her Grand Slam main-draw debut with a 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-1 win over Panna Udvardy.

No.39-ranked Kostyuk's aggressive methods from the beginning made her presence known. To return Sabalenka's first serve, the Ukrainian stood inside the baseline. After each of her returns, she rushed the net and blasted winners down both wings.

At 2-2, Kostyuk used a deft drop shot to conclude the longest rally of the match up to that point, and with the help of two double faults from Sabalenka, she went on to win the first break of serve. The higher-ranked player instantly countered by increasing her own level of intensity. Sabalenka found a ferocious forehand to avoid another break point in the following game after nailing a driving volley to break back right away.

Sabalenka really came back from being down 3-2 in the first set by winning six straight games to get to 2-0 in the second. A further forehand winner gave Sabalenka a 4-1 double-break advantage, which she was able to hold despite facing break points in her final two service games.

In total, Sabalenka made 21 unforced errors compared to 19 wins. Kostyuk made 20 unforced mistakes but only 11 correct shots.

"It was an emotionally tough match, and I'm super happy that I get this win. In the first games, things didn't work well for me, but I'm happy that I was able to get through this match," Aryna Sabalenka was quoted as saying by after the match.

"It was tough first round, and especially after such a tough loss in Rome. I mean, I know I was exhausted, but still this match is in your head. Emotionally, I was a little bit nervous at the beginning. I was just trying to keep fighting, keep finding my rhythm, keep adjusting to the court. Point by point I start building my game. I start playing better and with more rhythm, was able to go for my shots without a lot of mistakes," she added. (ANI)

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