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Aryna Sabalenka returns from positive COVID-19 test with win at Kremlin Cup

In her first match since reaching the US Open semifinals and subsequently testing positive for COVID-19, Aryna Sabalenka defeated Ajla Tomljanovic, 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-1, on Wednesday to reach the quarterfinals of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.

The No. 2-ranked Sabalenka, who had a bye in the first round here, served 10 aces but also made 30 unforced errors.

“She’s a tough opponent for the first match after a long time out,” Sabalenka said. “I calmed down a bit and started playing well.”

Sabalenka had not played since her three-set loss to Leylah Fernandez in the U.S. Open. The 23-year-old Belarusian had been programmed to play in Indian Wells, California, but stated she had tested positive for the coronavirus the day before play started.

She’ll next play Ekaterina Alexandrova, who beat Anhelina Kalinina, 6-4, 6-1.

Garbine Muguruza beat Tereza Martincova, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, to set up a quarterfinal match against either Anett Kontaveit or Andrea Petkovic. Fourth-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat Bernarda Pera, 6-2, 7-5, in the second round.

Second-seeded Garbine Muguruza also needed three sets to win her opener, defeating the Czech Republic’s Tereza Martincova 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

The two Russian players in action Wednesday both won their second-round contests.

In the men’s competition, third-seeded Karen Khachanov reached the quarterfinals with a 3-6, 6-3 6-1 victory over James Duckworth. Another Australian awaits Khachanov in the next round after John Millman progressed with a 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 victory over qualifier Illya Marchenko.

Marin Cilic, a two-time champion at the Kremlin Cup, made it to the quarterfinals by beating Tommy Paul, 7-5, 6-3.

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