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Australia Open Champion Aryna Sabalenka Loses At Dubai

Australia Open Champion Aryna Sabalenka Loses At Dubai

Aryna Sabalenka lost her first match after successfully defending her Australian Open title, falling to an old opponent at the Dubai Championships on Tuesday. In the second round, the No. 2-ranked Sabalenka lost a set and a 2-0 lead against Donna Vekic of Croatia, who battled to win 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-0.

No. 3 Elena Rybakina escaped an upset when Victoria Azarenka retired in tears. Azarenka won the first set 6-4, but dropped the second 6-2 as her agony increased. Sabalenka and Vekic have competed on the circuit for eight years, and Vekic dominated the early matches. Aryna Sabalenka made her Grand Slam debut, defeating Vekic in the Australian quarterfinals a year ago on her way to her maiden major victory. Also read: Eugenie Bouchard Reveals Her New Boyfriend, making It Official

On Tuesday, Vekic mentioned Sabalenka winning “the big one” in their career confrontations, but her sixth win in eight contests wasn’t bad either. Sabalenka led 5-3 before clinching the first set in a tiebreaker. Sabalenka, who had returned from a three-week hiatus following her victory in Melbourne, subsequently extended her lead to 3-0.

“I was on the beach already,” Vekic claimed, but a sliced backhand passing winner that Sabalenka let go rescued the game and sparked Vekic’s comeback. “I won the first set and was up for a break. “And didn’t feel like I was awake,” Sabalenka explained. “I played so poorly today. And feel that the conditions here don’t suit me at all.”

Vekic won the following three games while remaining aggressive but increasing his accuracy, breaking for 5-3 and serving out to tie the set after nearly two hours.

Sabalenka, forced into her first three-set match of the year, demonstrated more second serves and frustration, while Vekic was brutal. Sabalenka’s sixth double fault left her 3-0 down in the third, and two more double faults dropped her to 5-0 adrift. Vekic then won her ninth consecutive game, marking her first victory over a top-two player since 2019. Also read: Breaking: Katerina Siniakova upsets Coco Gauff at Qatar Open

Wimbledon champion and Marketa beat Peyton Stearns 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 for the third time in eight months. No. 8 Maria Sakkari and former champions Jelena Ostapenko and Elina Svitolina have also advanced to the round of 16.

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