There were none of the serving struggles that have characterized Aryna Sabalenka's season so far in her opening match at the Qatar TotalEnergies Open—a clinical 6-2, 6-2 dismissal of France's Alizé Cornet in Tuesday's second round.

The top seed and 2020 champion never faced a break point in 74 minutes and tallied just four double faults, her lowest total in nine matches this season. She surrendered just 14 points in eight service games, giving her more than enough cushion to support four breaks of Cornet's serve. 

"It definitely wasn't easy. It was a really tough match. She played really well, she pushed me a lot," Sabalenka said on-court in victory. "I expected long rallies in this match and I prepared myself for this kind of rallies. The tactic was just to stay in the point as long as I can, push her as much as I can, and to serve well." 

Match management: One of six former champions in the field in Doha, Sabalenka denied the unseeded Cornet her fourth win over a seeded foe in the season's first two months with a comprehensive performance. The Belarusian broke serve at 1-1 in the first set and never trailed from there. She also broke to love to start the second set in front, and hit more winners (22 to 8) and less unforced errors (28 to 34) than Cornet in the match. 

Sabalenka improves to 2-1 against Cornet in her career, with both wins coming in the Middle East. Twelve months ago, she also defeated Cornet in Dubai.

Up next: In the third round, Sabalenka will face Swiss left-hander Jil Teichmann, who backed up an opening upset of Angelique Kerber with a 7-6(9), 7-5 win over Alison van Uytvanck of Belgium.

Teichmann led by a break for much of the opener, but ultimately needed five set points to see off the set in a dramatic tiebreak. Van Uytvanck also rallied from an early break down in the second set, but Teichmann sealed the win by claiming the last three games. 

Jabeur rallies to see off Sasnovich 

Proceedings were much less straight forward for Ons Jabeur against Sabalenka's compatriot Aliaksandra Sasnovich. The No. 8 seed came from a set down to seal her own second-round victory, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, to beat Sasnovich from a set down for the second time in their two career meetings. She previously pulled off the feat in the second round of the 2019 US Open. 

Photo by Jimmie48/WTA

Words from the winner: "It's never easy playing her. She's such a player and she had three matches ahead of me, so it wasn't easy getting into the court and into the match, Jabeur said. "The first set was very difficult for me. I tried to remain calm in the second set and try to play my game. It wasn't easy ... and I'm glad that even if I didn't play good in the first set, I was able to come back and play my tennis." 

Highlights: Jabeur d. Sasnovich | Teichmann d. van Uytvanck

After failing to hold serve in the first set, Jabeur credited her mental resilience with helping to turn the match around. 

"I'm learning every day from each match. Maybe, a few matches back, if I couldn't win my serve, I would've lost those points. Today, I felt like I needed to be stronger and win those games. I think this was the key to the match at certain times. I'm very happy that I stayed strong, that I didn't give up mentally. It's never easy when someone is playing good, but I'm really glad that I came back."

She also credited the fan support with helping her to regroup in crucial moments, which included the 3-3 game in the second set where she saved two break points, and the seventh game of the decider where she erased a chance Sasnovich had to level at 3-3. 

"They really helped, especially in that game with the break points. Having the crowd like this is always motivating and always positive, no matter what the result is, is very important for me. Being in Qatar is like being home ... and it's amazing. Hopefully, I can hear them chanting for the whole tournament." 

Sakkari sails past American Li, sets another meeting with Pegula

Winless against Americans so far this season, Maria Sakkari flipped the script to return to the third round. In her first match since losing in the final of the St. Petersburg Ladies' Trophy to Anett Kontaveit, Sakkari was a 6-3, 6-3 victor over Ann Li and came from a break down in the second set. 

Highlights: Sakkari def. Li

"It was a tricky match and especially a tricky second set, but I'm very glad with the way I played and the way I handled the pressure in the second set. She plays very well, she's an upcoming player, so I'm very pleased with my performance. After a great run in Russia that didn't end well, I'm very glad that I was able to come back strong here," Sakkari said. 

"I think I was very aggressive, especially in the first set, and when I had to be very solid against her, I was just making her play a lot of balls, taking my chances, returning well and serving out the match at the end."

A new rivalry: Sakkari and Pegula will play for the fourth time overall and the third time in the span of a year. The No.6 seed will be looking for revenge after the pair played in the fourth round of the Australian Open, and Pegula won in straight sets. 

"She played a very good match in Australia, I have to say. It was a tough loss for me, but I'm very excited to play her again," she added. "I think it's going to be a very nice match for people to watch and a very nice match for both of us. ... We're both playing well and this is one more time of us facing each other, so I'm excited."