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Top-seed Sabalenka beats Paolini in Linz opener

Tennis: US OPEN

Sep 3, 2020; Flushing Meadows, New York, USA; Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus reviews the boards during the match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus on day four of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

LINZ, Austria -- Aryna Sabalenka overcame a slow start to defeat Jasmine Paolini 6-4, 6-4 Tuesday in the opening round of the season-ending Upper Austria Ladies Linz.

The top-seeded Sabalenka fell 4-1 down in the first set before winning the next five games.

Both players swapped breaks halfway through the second set before Sabalenka broke the 94th-ranked Italian for a fourth time at 4-4 and served out the match in the following game.

The 11th-ranked Sabalenka has won 10 of her last 12 matches, which included a semifinal in Strasbourg in September and her seventh career title in Ostrava in October.

Sabalenka next plays Swiss qualifier Stefanie Voegele, who defeated Viktoria Kuzmova 7-6 (3), 6-3.

In other first-round play, 2018 champion Camila Giorgi outlasted Sara Sorribes Tormo for a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 win in two hours and 38 minutes.

Giorgi, who conceded a 4-1 lead in the second set, double-faulted nine times in the match.

Also, former world No. 2 Vera Zvonareva eased past Marta Kostyuk 6-4, 6-2, while Sorana Cirstea, Arantxa Rus, Jana Fett and Barbora Krejcikova also advanced.

No spectators were allowed in the arena since Austria tightened its anti-coronavirus measures last week.