Tennis

Miami Open: Aryna Sabalenka Wins Emotional Match After Boyfriend's Death, Enters Last 32

Aryna Sabalenka beat Paula Badosa 6-4, 6-3, days after the “apparent suicide” of her former boyfriend Konstantin Koltsov. The second-seeded Belarusian will next face Anhelina Kalinina in the round of 32 of Miami Open

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AP
Aryna Sabalenka claimed a straight sets win over Paula Badosa in the round of 64 at Miami Open. Photo: AP
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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. (More Tennis News)

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.

Koltsov’s death led Sabalenka to reveal her “heart is broken”, but she was able to show incredible composure and poise to beat good friend Badosa by a 6-4 6-3 score 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.

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Dressed in black and with a baseball cap on, the Belarusian 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.

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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 number two.

Photo: Lynne Sladky
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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 on Thursday.

Coco Gauff joined Sabalenka in the last 32 with a rapid 6-1 6-2 triumph over Nadia Podoroska.

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