(Reuters) – Aryna Sabalenka fended off Madison Brengle 6-1 6-7(5) 6-2 on Monday to advance to the second round of the Top Seed Open in Lexington, Kentucky, the first WTA Tour event in the United States since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the circuit in March.
World number 11 Sabalenka, who defeated two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in Doha in February, fired off eight aces and saved 11 of 15 break points in the win over the American.
Rounding out the day’s action at the outdoor, hardcourt tournament, Czech Republic’s Marie Bouzkova upset world number 15 Johanna Konta 6-4 6-4.
Serena Williams is expected to return to competition for the first time since the novel coronavirus outbreak on Tuesday with a first-round clash against fellow American Bernarda Pera.
Her sister Venus, a seven-times Grand Slam winner, will face off against two-time Australian Open champ Victoria Azarenka.
American teens Amanda Anisimova and Coco Gauff are also playing on Tuesday. Gauff, who rocketed to fame after defeating Venus Williams at last year’s Wimbledon, plays Caroline Dolehide while Anisimova faces compatriot Catherine Bellis.
The Cincinnati Masters is scheduled to be played at Flushing Meadows, New York from next week, followed by the U.S. Open, also at its usual Flushing Meadows home, from Aug. 31-Sept. 13.
(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Peter Rutherford)