Aryna Sabalenka defended her title at the Wuhan Open with a three-set win over Alison Riske, and with the win, the young Belarussian pulled off a rare feat among tournament champions on the “Asian Swing.”
Sabalenka became only the third player to defend a title this decade at the tournaments held on the continent after the US Open. While some players, such as Petra Kvitova, have been prolific during this stretch, going back-to-back with tournament triumphs has only been accomplished by two other players: Caroline Wozniacki and Samantha Stosur.
For Stosur, her consecutive wins came at the Japan Women’s Open. In 2013, she defeated the young Canadian Eugenie Bouchard in the final, then defended her title a year later with a win over Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.
The Japan Open will always hold special meaning for Stosur: After years of being one of the best doubles players on the tour and losing her first five singles finals, she broke through with her first title at the tournament in 2009.
Wozniacki’s won a number of titles in Asia during this time of the year—eight, in fact. Her only title defense, though, came rather recently at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. In 2016, she topped the up-and-comer Naomi Osaka for the title and last year, the Dane beat Anastasia Pavlyunchenkova of Russia.
After starting off the year strong with the title in Shenzhen, China (where she beat Riske for the title), Sabalenka posted inconsistent results for months—especially since many observers of the game had her on their shortlist for a Grand Slam title. Over the past couple of months, though, it’s appeared that she’s rediscovered her game. She reached the final in San Jose and won the doubles title at the US Open with Elise Mertens.
Now, a year after topping Anett Kontaveit in the Wuhan Open final, she’s a singles champion once again—and with the win, has become a member of a rather select group.
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