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British qualifier Dart beats Niemeier as tennis returns to China after 4 years


GUANGZHOU, China (AP) — British qualifier Harriet Dart beat Jule Niemeier of Germany 6-3, 6-2 in the first round of the Guangzhou Open as elite women’s tennis returned to China on Monday after four years.

Tournaments were cancelled in China due to COVID-19 travel restrictions in 2020. The WTA then suspended its events in the country in December 2021 over concerns about Grand Slam champion Peng Shuai’s well-being after the Chinese player made sexual assault accusations against former vice premier Zhang Gaoli.

The WTA announced in April that it intended to return to China this season after assurances were received from those close to Peng that she was safe and well, and that “more progress could be made” by returning to the country than by staying away.

Dart, ranked No. 155, will next take on Belgian Greet Minnen, who defeated Diane Parry of France, 6-2, 6-2.

Diana Shnaider of Russia upset No. 8 seed Claire Liu of the United States 6-1, 6-3 while fifth-seeded Rebeka Masarova advanced with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Kateryna Baindl.

In another upset, Denmark's Clara Tauson beat sixth-seeded Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 7-6 (6).

Top-seeded Magda Linette of Poland, ranked No. 27, lost the first set tie-breaker against Jodie Burrage before coming back to win 6-7 (3), 6-0, 6-2 in the day's longest match lasting 2 hours, 20 minutes.


AP tennis:

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