World No 1 Aryna Sabalenka said on Tuesday her performances in “key moments” were crucial to surviving a major scare in the China Open second round, after she defeated unseeded Katie Boulter 7-5, 7-6 (7/2) in Beijing.
Sabalenka saved seven break points at 5-5 and then forced the stubborn Briton, ranked 56th in the world, into a rare backhand error to clinch the opening set.
The Belarusian notched another must-win break in the second set to again draw level at 5-5 before triumphing in a tie-break by slamming down an unreturned serve.
She will battle Italy’s Jasmine Paolini in the next round for a place in the quarterfinals.
“I think what made the difference was that in the key moments I played a little bit better than her,” Sabalenka said at a post-match news conference.
“I think it was all about those last games in each set. She had the opportunity and I’m super glad that I didn’t give her those sets easily,” she added.
“I kept fighting, kept trying, and that’s what made the difference.”
World No 4 Jessica Pegula bounced back from a set down on Tuesday to beat Russia’s Anna Blinkova 6-7 (2/7), 6-2, 6-1.