Sabalenka serve key to top seed's opening Montreal win

Montreal (AFP) –


Top seed Aryna Sabalenka fired 18 aces to power into the third round of the WTA hardcourt tournament in Montreal on Wednesday.

The world number three from Belarus defeated 2018 finalist Sloane Stephens 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 6-4 in two and a half hours.

The Wimbledon semi-finalist had to overcome 11 aces from Stephens but broke the American's serve six times to secure the victory.

Sabalenka, winner of two titles this season, improved her 2021 record to 36-12.

Greek Maria Sakkari defeated 33rd-ranked Veronika Kudermetova 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 after nearly two and three-quarter hours.

Canada's number 220 Rebecca Marino, who quit the sport for five years from 2013 in the interest of her mental health, continued to impress at home.

The 30-year-old from Vancouver defeated Spain's Paula Badosa in a 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 fightback.