BEIJING, China – No.5 seed Bianca Andreescu secured her 14th victory in succession as she overcame Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the first round of the China Open, 6-2, 2-6, 6-1.
Playing her first match since winning the US Open, the WTA World No.6 scored her 44th win of 2019 but showed signs of rust as she struggled in the second set.
Ultimately, though, the 19-year-old had too much for her rival, booking a second-round match against Elise Mertens in four minutes short of two hours.
Sasnovich made a promising start to the match as she broke in the very first game before fighting to hold and move 2-0 up.
Thereafter, the opening set was one-way traffic. Andreescu suddenly snapped into gear, producing a comfortable hold to love then drawing level without dropping a point.
The Canadian was starting to move freely, and while her defensive play increased the pressure on her opponent to become ever more accurate, when she found time on the ball, her hitting was formidable.
It was not, however, a flawless set from the Indian Wells and Toronto champion. A lapse in concentration saw her fall behind 0-40 on serve but the game was salvaged in spectacular fashion. After a thumping ace, she produced an absurd overhead en route to moving 5-2 up.
The momentum stuck with the higher-ranked player through until the end of the set as she broke for a third successive occasion. For a second time, she did so to love to seal the set, punishing the Sasnovich second serve in particular, on which she won seven points from eight opportunities.
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Initially, there was a sense of déjà vu in the second set as Sasnovich opened by winning the first two games, throwing in a delightful drop shot in the process only for the advantage to be quickly wiped out.
The pattern was ended in the fifth game, which spanned eight minutes and saw the Belarusian hit back by restoring her lead by breaking at the fifth opportunity then register her first hold to love.
It proved something of a watershed moment in the match. Sasnovich was suddenly buoyed by new-found confidence, while Andreescu’s game, and serve especially, went off the boil. Indeed, by the time her opponent had secured the set, winning four games in succession, Andreescu had hit just five winners to 19 unforced errors and was struggling to win 50% of points when her first serve found its mark.
Mentally, the teenager has proven her toughness time and again in 2019, and her fortitude was amply displayed in the third set.
After winning a battle on her first service game in the decider that went to deuce, she broke at the fourth opportunity on the Sasnovich delivery and then went on to dominate the set in a manner that she had displayed in the first.
An insurance break was secured as she moved 5-1 up, and she had no problems serving out the match as her remarkable year continues.
Next up is a repeat of her US Open quarterfinal match-up against Mertens, with Andreescu chasing a 15th win in a row.