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Sabalenka to face good friend Badosa

STUTTGART, Germany (AP) — Paula Badosa battled past Diana Shnaider 6-3, 6-4 to set up a match with friend and world No 2 Aryna Sabalenka at the Porsche Grand Prix on Monday.

Shnaider fended off four match points before former No 2 Badosa took her fifth opportunity at the clay-court tournament.

Badosa’s 10 double faults allowed Shnaider eight break point opportunities. The 20-year-old Russian was unable to take any of them on the center court in Stuttgart.

Sabalenka has finished runner-up on her last three appearances in Stuttgart, losing the final to former No1 Ashleigh Barty in 2021 and current No 1 Iga Świątek in 2022 and 2023.

Sachia Vickery of the United States defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 7-6 (2), 7-5 and will next face compatriot Coco Gauff, the world No 3.

Veronika Kudermetova of Russia outlasted Barbora Krejčíková 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 for a second-round meeting with No 4 Elena Rybakina.

Kudermetova was a break down in the deciding set but fought back and took her first match point to prevail after 3 hours, 6 minutes — one of the longest ever matches in Stuttgart.

Gauff, Sabalenka, Świątek and Rybakina all received first-round byes. Eight of the top 10 women are at the tournament.

Świątek is bidding to become the first three-time champion in Stuttgart since Maria Sharapova won from 2012-14. The Pole will open against Elise Mertens or Tatjana Maria.

Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka attends a press conference during the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix WTA tennis tournament in Stuttgart, Germany, Monday. PHOTO: AP