The final match of the 2019 WTA Shenzhen Open between the top seed Aryna Sabalenka and Alison Riske was a remarkable three-set affair. Ultimately, it was won by Sabalenka, who edged past her opponent with 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-3.
Sabalenka was broken quite early in the first set by Riske – a break that proved to be costly for the Belarusian. At 1-1 on Riske’s serve, she had a chance to go up 2-1 but the American fought bravely and saved the break point.
In the very next game, the World No. 62 turned the table around by forcing her top-seeded adversary to defend her serve. However, there wasn’t a lot that Sabalenka could do and ultimately, she went down 2-1. After that, all Riske had to do was hold on to her service till the end of the set and that is exactly what she did.
The second set started with the reigning Wuhan Open champion quickly taking a 4-1 lead after breaking Riske’s service early in the set. However, in the sixth game – the longest game of the set, Riske played some brilliant tennis to save four break points.
The two players alternated between deuce and advantage four times before the American finally managed to take that game and make score 4-2.
Sabalenka had a chance to take the set at 5-2 on Riske’s service. Once again, the underdog saved two break points (and set points) to seal the victory in the second set itself. In the very next game, Riske got a break and the score was once again tied. The set ultimately went into the tie-break wherein, the World No. 13 had the upper hand.
As a result, she won the second set 7-6(2).
With the score now tied at 1-1, the third set promised to be action-packed and entertaining. Luckily, the fans got exactly what they asked for.
The Belarusian broke Riske’s service back to back early in the third set and went up 3-0 rather quickly. Even though she lost her service to the American in the next game, she still held a one-game lead that proved to be the deciding factor.
It was quite evident that Sabalenka was on her way to a comfortable victory. At 4-2, she had a chance to take an insurmountable lead by breaking her opponent’s serve again. However, Riske fought back once again and saved two break points to stay in the match.
A similar story was seen in the final game of the set as well. At 5-3, Sabalenka was serving for two match points but Riske was particularly determined to not succumb to her opponent. In the end, however, the top seed was far too strong for her opponent. She finally got the match point and took the third set 6-3.
This is Sabalenka’s third singles title on the tour. At just 20 years of age, she has managed to deliver some stunning results. She has definitely got a perfect start to the season and it will be interesting to see if she can carry this momentum forward.