Britain’s Katie Boulter, who has risen to 54 in the WTA rankings following a superb summer, will take on top-ranked Aryna Sabalenka at the China Open; Head to the Sky Sports website and app, for live scores, reports, analysis and features
Britain’s Katie Boulter set up a mouth-watering clash with top seed Aryna Sabalenka at the China Open, while Iga Swiatek admits losing the No 1 ranking felt like a weight lifted off her shoulders.
Boulter continued her excellent form by coming through qualifying in Beijing and then defeating Magdalena Frech 6-4 3-6 6-2 to set up a round-of-32 meeting with top-ranked Sabalenka on Tuesday.
Sabalenka outclassed Sofia Kenin 6-1 6-2 in her first match as the women’s world No 1.
On the men’s side, Carlos Alcaraz booked his place in the quarter-finals with a 6-2 6-2 win over Italian Lorenzo Musetti for his 60th victory of the year.
“Today was a perfect match for me,” said Alcaraz, who is making his debut in Beijing. “You can improve and be better every day but I was proud of my tennis playing this level.
“I played high quality, great shots and a great return game. It was a great match. I enjoyed playing today. I enjoy China.”
Up next for the Spaniard is seventh seed Casper Ruud, who edged Tomas Martin Etcheverry 1-6 7-5 7-6 (9-7).
Meanwhile, Swiatek, who won the French Open for a third time earlier this year, plans to focus on improving her game and not merely chasing points during the home stretch of the season.
The 22-year-old from Poland inherited top spot following Ashleigh Barty’s retirement last April and embarked on a superb run of form in the months that followed to claim three more Grand Slam titles after her breakthrough success at Roland Garros in 2020.
Her remarkable consistency meant she spent 75 weeks at the peak, but a fourth-round defeat at the US Open last month meant Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka finally leapfrogged her.
“I think it’s a bit easier to come back to the mindset of chasing somebody because that’s what we’ve been doing our whole lives,” Swiatek said.
“There’s only one person who’s at number one. I think this was harder to get used to last season. But honestly, it doesn’t really matter for me because after the US Open, I knew I was going to drop to second position.
“I stopped thinking about rankings because I felt like there’s some baggage off my shoulders. I could focus more on just working and getting back to the more peaceful and normal rhythm of practising.”
Swiatek is in no rush to reclaim the top ranking and said she wanted to develop as a player in the coming months.
“It’s different because you’re just focusing on the future, not on defending something,” Swiatek said. “I’m using that. But overall I’m also worried that it’s the last tournaments of the season, so I’m not going to be 100 per cent fresh.
“My main goal is to do some stuff differently on court in terms of the technique and tactics, to develop as a player, not really chase points or rankings.”
Flawless Kudermetova dismantles Pegula to claim Tokyo title
Veronika Kudermetova claimed her first title of the season and second overall with a comprehensive 7-5 6-1 win over world No 4 Jessica Pegula in the Pan Pacific Open final in Tokyo.
“I’m really happy about my performance today. It’s my second title and I’m proud of myself,” said Kudermetova, whose previous title was also a WTA 500 crown at Charleston in 2021.
“I prepared myself for a tough match as Jessica is a great player and a great fighter… It’s always nice when you win a big tournament.”
Pegula will not be too disappointed, however, as her deep run will help her take a huge step towards securing a spot in the season-ending WTA Finals in Cancun, Mexico.
She is set to join Aryna Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff and Elena Rybakina who have all qualified for the season finale that starts later this month.
Top-seeded Ons Jabeur won her fifth career title at the Ningbo Open with a 6-2 6-1 victory over teenager Diana Shnaider.
“I felt tactically I played very well, I had an advantage in that I had more experience than her to manage certain points,” Jabeur said.
“Playing a final here is more relaxed than playing a Grand Slam final, but I think it will help me gain confidence more, and to help me manage the pressure and stress.”