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Kasatkina outlasts Wang in Zhuhai opener

File photo of Daria Kasatkina. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Zhuhai, Guangdong, China Oct 30, 2018, 08.32 PM (IST)

Top seed Daria Kasatkina overcame a stern test from Wang Qiang in the opening round-robin match at the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, outlasting the local favourite 6-1 2-6 7-5 on Tuesday.

Competing as a top-10 player for the first time, Kasatkina broke her opponent twice to claim the opening set.

But Wang, China`s top-ranked player, rebounded with a string of aggressive groundstrokes to force a decider.

The final set was a topsy-turvy affair with nine successive games against serve before Kasatkina finally held her delivery together to clinch the victory in just under two hours.

The 21-year-old Russian will next face American Madison Keys in Azalea Group, with a victory guaranteeing Kasatkina a spot in the semi-finals.

Third seed Aryna Sabalenka, the youngest player in the tournament`s four-year history at 20, battled past Australian Ashleigh Barty 6-4 6-4 to top the Orchid Group.

The 20-year-old Belarusian came back from a break down in the second set to reel off four straight games on her way to a first victory in Zhuhai.

"I didn`t play some tournaments since a few weeks ago, so I was really missing tennis," Sabalenka, who recorded her 46th match win of the season, said in her on-court interview. 

"Today I was running to every ball, trying to show my best game. So I`m so happy with this result."

Belgium`s Elise Mertens needed just 66 minutes to defeat Estonian Anett Kontaveit 6-3 6-1 and move to the top of the Rose Group, which also features defending champion Julia Goerges.

The Elite Trophy features the world`s top 12 singles players who did not qualify for the WTA Finals last week.

The round-robin format will see the winners from each of the four groups advance to the semi-finals.

Story highlights

Competing as a top-10 player for the first time, Kasatkina broke her opponent twice to claim the opening set.