Sabalenka passes Paolini test in Linz debut

Top seed Aryna Sabalenka opened her title bid at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz with a 6-4, 6-4 first-round win over Jasmine Paolini of Italy on Tuesday evening. The World No. 11 from Belarus fired 11 aces and won 73 per cent of her first-service points to advance in one hour and 26 minutes.

“Serve helped me a lot today. I’m very happy with it,” said Sabalenka, who had to overcome a slow start, trailing 1-4 in the opening set of her debut on the grey Center Court of the TipsArena Linz.

Sabalenka will next take on Swiss qualifier Stefanie Voegele, who beat Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia 7-6(3), 6-3 in one hour and 31 minutes.

“She’s a very good player and for sure it’s going to be a good match,” the 22-year-old from Minsk said of her upcoming opponent and added:

“Of course, I want to finish my season with a title this week. I will do everything I can to get it. I will still work on my game and my shots. This is what is hopefully going to help me.”

Zvonareva holds off Kostyuk

Earlier in the day, former World No.2 Vera Zvonareva emerged victorious from the “battle of the generations” with Ukrainian rising star Marta Kostyuk. The 36-year-old Russian, who entered the main draw of the WTA International Event with a wild card, defeated the teenager 6-4, 6-2.

Zvonareva, who turned pro two years before 18-year-old Kostyuk was born, converted five of her 12 break-point chances to prevail after almost one hour and 30 minutes.

"I knew she's a great, up and coming player, and a fighter on the court," World No. 173 Zvonareva explained after the match. "I was an up and coming player like, twenty years ago! I've seen her play a couple of times but have never practiced or played in the past. I knew it was going to be a tough match, and that I'd need to play my best to beat her."

Zvonareva is on her way back to the Top 100 after struggling with an injury last year. Reaching the Round of 16 at the Western & Southern Open in New York as a qualifier, her most memorable result since tour action resumed was in doubles, where she clinched the US Open title alongside German Laura Siegemund. It has been her first Grand Slam triumph since lifting the doubles trophy at the 2012 Australian Open.

"I'm just enjoying my time on the court, and I want to play as many matches as I can to prolong my career,” Zvonareva said. “Maybe I have a few more months, maybe a few more years. I'm not setting any limits for myself. I was up against a young, up and coming player today, and we were able to fight on court and play a good match. After so many years, my fitness and mentality are still there, and I still have the desire to compete. If my mindset is like that, the age doesn't matter to me, and it's just about two players competing on the court."

Up next for the veteran will be either Ukrainian qualifier Anhelina Kalinina or No. 2 seed Elise Mertens from Belgium.

Giorgi outlast Sorribes Tormo

In the longest match of the day, 2018 champion Camila Giorgi from Italy battled past Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain 6-3, 5-7, 6-4. The 28-year-old Macerata native won two points more than her opponent to seal victory in two hours and 38 minutes.Giorgi  will next play either French Open semi-finalist Nadia Podoroska of Argentina or Irina-Camelia Begu from Romania, who will face off on Wednesday.