WTA Tour: Zheng Qinwen blasts 23 aces to beat Osaka; Azarenka tops Sakkari in Berlin

Berlin, June 18 (IANS) World No.8 Zheng Qinwen hammered a season-high 23 aces on her way to a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win over four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka in the first round of the Berlin Ladies Open here on Tuesday. Victoria Azarenka also advanced to the second round while Ons Jabeur’s march ahead was halted by poor weather.

Zheng’s 23 aces are the most hit in a WTA Tour match this season, besting the previous mark of 19 by Karolina Pliskova against Anna Kalinskaya in Doha. It is the most in any match since Rebecca Marino hit 24 against Caroline Garcia in 2022 Guadalajara.

Since 2008, Zheng has been the seventh player to hit 23 or more aces in a match, joining Kristyna Pliskova (four times), Serena Williams (twice), Karolina Pliskova, Sabine Lisicki, Caroline Garcia and Rebecca Marino. It is the most aces given up by Osaka in her career, eclipsing the 16 struck by Karolina Pliskova in Brisbane this year.

In a later match, former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka clinched a spot in the second round with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over No.7 seed Maria Sakkari.

World No.19 Azarenka, a semifinalist here in 2021, needed 1 hour and 33 minutes to dismiss Sakkari and collect her fourth Top 10 win of the year. Azarenka maintains her mastery over Sakkari in their rivalry, having won all four of their professional meetings.

Azarenka was never broken in the match, fending off seven aces by Sakkari in the process. Azarenka won 80 percent of her first-serve points, while also prevailing on 61 percent of Sakkari’s second-serve points.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Azarenka is still seeking the first grass-court title of her heavily decorated career. Azarenka’s best result at a grass-court event was a run to the Eastbourne final back in 2010, where she fell to Ekaterina Makarova.

No.8 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, the 2022 Berlin champion, captured the opening set of her first-round match against qualifier Wang Xinyu of China before play was suspended overnight due to rain.

World No.10 Jabeur led by a double-break at 4-1 before 40th-ranked Wang charged back to level proceedings at 4-4. However, Jabeur regained the break at 5-4 after her backhand service return was netted by Wang, and the Tunisian served out the set at love.

But while the players sat down at the changeover between sets, rain came in harder and play was called off for the day. This means Czech teenager Linda Noskova will have to wait until tomorrow to find out if she will play Jabeur or Wang in the second round.



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