Aryna Sabalenka Beats Paula Badosa At Miami Open Days After Boyfriend’s Death


World number two Aryna Sabalenka returned to the court for the first time since the death of her ex-boyfriend earlier this week and kept her emotions in check as she defeated Spain's Paula Badosa 6-4, 6-3 on Friday. After a six-hour rain delay, Sabalenka came onto the court wearing an all-black dress, matching her close friend Badosa's. Two-time Australian Open winner Sabalenka said she was “heartbroken” by the death of former boyfriend Konstantin Koltsov in a statement on Wednesday, where she revealed they were no longer a couple at the time of his death.

Koltsov died on Monday and Miami police said he jumped from the balcony of a resort room in an “apparent suicide.”

The former NHL ice hockey player and coach, was 42.

Sabalenka started the match slowly but took a break in the first set to lead 4-3 and never looked back.

The Belarusian then broke with a brilliant cross-court forehand winner in the third game of the second set and showed too much power for his Spanish opponent to seal the victory in one hour and 22 minutes.

The two players hugged at the net before leaving the court without an on-court interview. Sabalenka has asked the WTA for exemption from media duties at the tournament.

Badosa said she was not surprised by the way Sabalenka was able to keep her focus and deliver a solid performance.

“She's a very strong woman, a strong personality. You can see it on the court…I know her off the court so I'm not surprised at all,” she said.

“I knew she would play very well or like normal. I told her I wish her all the best and let's see if she can go further in this tournament,” the Spaniard said.

Badosa said before the match that she expected it would be “inconvenient” to play against Sabalenka given her friendship with the Belarusian player.

mental strength

But he said his professionalism and mental strength had shown themselves.

“Honestly, we're both very strong mentally. We're strong women and she proved it and I proved it,” she said.

“We knew how to split up in those two hours for the match. She played really well and considering where I'm coming from (with injuries), I played really well,” she said.

She said, “It all comes from knowing that we have been through a lot in our lives and that we are strong women. We knew how to put (things) aside in that moment.”

Third-seeded American Coco Gauff had little trouble in her test against Argentina's Nadia Podoroska and won 6-1, 6-2 in one hour and 16 minutes.

At the ATP event, 60th-ranked Czech Tomas Machak came out to claim his first top 10 victim in a long time, defeating fifth-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev 6-4, 6-4.

Rain returned again later in the evening and play was stopped for the day.

Among men, world number three Jannik Sinner of Italy was leading 3-2 against compatriot Andrea Vavasori, the reigning Australian Open champion, when rain came and the match will continue on Saturday.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Topics mentioned in this article

Arina Sabalenka Paula Badosa Gibert Tennis

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