STRASBOURG, France - No.2 seed Aryna Sabalenka scored her first win on red clay in over a year at the Internationaux de Strasbourg, dismissing China's Zhu Lin, 6-0, 6-1 to reach the second round.
A runner-up at the 2018 Samsung Open in Lugano, Sabalenka had taken opening round losses at the Mutua Madrid Open and the Internazionali BNL d'Italia to Svetlana Kuznetsova and Alizé Cornet, respectively. The big-hitting Belarusian is making up for lost time with just one week until Roland Garros, triumphing after 47 minutes on Court Patrice Dominguez and allowing just 17 points from her opponent.
Zhu had caused a stir at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, qualifying for the main draw and shocking Qatar Total Open champion Elise Mertens in three titanic sets. Playing her first clay court WTA main draw of the season, she had few answers to counter the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open winner, striking just two winners to 14 unforced errors.
After rain delayed the start of Sunday's main draw action, Sabalenka rolled through the opening set and weathered one service break to resume her dominance, finishing the clash with a positive differential of 12 winners to eight unforced errors, and a near-perfect six for seven break point conversion rate.
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Up next for the Belarusian will be one of two qualifiers as 2017 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix champion Laura Siegemund takes on Mexico's Renata Zarazua.
Around the grounds, No.3 seed Wang Qiang similarly rebounded from early defeats in Madrid and Rome to defeat American Jennifer Brady, 6-4, 6-3, while hometown favorite Fiona Ferro knocked out Luksika Kumkhum, 6-3, 6-1. Rebecca Peterson rallied from a set down to up-end Magda Linette, 6-7(0), 6-1, 6-3.