Sabalenka claims emotional win over Badosa in Miami


Aryna Sabalenka claimed a straight-sets victory over Paula Badosa to progress into the last 32 of the Miami Open days after the death of her former boyfriend Konstantin Koltsov.

Two-time Australian Open champion Sabalenka returned to the tennis court after Koltsov died at the age of 42 on Monday in what police described as an "apparent suicide" in Miami.

Sabalenka issued a brief statement on Wednesday, saying her "heart was broken" by the "unthinkable tragedy" and that they had split up before the tragedy.

However, the Belarusian was able to show incredible composure and poise to beat Badosa 6-4 6-3 after an emotional few days.

Wet weather in Miami resulted in a lengthy delay before play on day three could finally get under way, with Sabalenka welcomed onto the Grandstand court to warm applause.

Dressed in black and with a baseball cap on, Sabalenka looked up to the sky before she gave Badosa a fist pump at the coin toss with her opponent also kitted out in all-black.

After a cagey start with the pair exchanging double-faults, Sabalenka forced two break points opportunities in the fifth game but Badosa fought back to hold.

It was brief respite for the Spaniard, with Sabalenka able to eventually clinch the first break point of the match to move 4-3 up when Badosa sent her return long.

Sabalenka sealed the first set when her fierce backhand was returned wide to claim a 46-minute opener in windy conditions.

The pair shared a smile during the second game of set two when a big gust of wind forced Sabalenka to abandon her serve which sparked laughter from the crowd and the world No.2.

It was soon back to business for the 25-year-old and she broke Badosa again to move 2-1 up.

Badosa was able to force a break-point opportunity of her own in the eighth game of the second set, but Sabalenka responded with a sumptuous winner that earned applause from her opponent.

There was no looking back for Sabalenka now and she broke Badosa again to secure a 6-4 6-3 victory before the good friends embraced at the net as the second seed opened her account for the tournament with an emotional win.

Next up for Sabalenka is a third-round clash with Ukraine's Anhelina Kalinina after she beat Caroline Wozniacki.

Also advancing to the last 32 are Coco Gauff, who posted a rapid 6-1 6-2 triumph over Nadia Podoroska, and Emma Navarro.

Navarro beat Storm Hunter 6-4 6-3 with the American breaking the Australian's serve five times.

Hunter put up a fight though, breaking serve three times herself, but the No.20 seed closed out a tight match with seven points separating the two.

Navarro's victory ended a brave run from the 29-year-old Queenslander, who had advanced to the round of 64 via the qualifiers.

Ekaterina Alexandrova also went through, defeating Donna Vekic 6-3 6-4.