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Sabalenka to open Friday’s play against best friend Badosa in Miami

Aryna Sabalenka will open Friday’s play at the Miami Open against Spain’s Paula Badosa – just days after the death of her former boyfriend Konstantin Koltsov at the age of 42.

Sabalenka said her “heart is broken” following the death of her former boyfriend Koltsov.

Former ice hockey player Koltsov, who played in the NHL for the Pittsburgh Penguins, died in Miami aged 42 on Monday in what police described as an “apparent suicide”.

Sabalenka, who is scheduled to participate in this week’s Miami Open, clarified in an Instagram story on Wednesday that she and Koltsov were no longer a couple before his death.

Miami Open: Friday's order of play

Sabalenka was pictured practising in Miami ahead of her first outing against best friend Badosa, who admitted facing the Belarusian will be “uncomfortable”.

Badosa said of Sabalenka: “Yesterday I spoke with her a lot of time. This morning the same. So I know what she’s going through. I know the entire situation, what is happening.

“That for me is a little bit shocking also to go through that because at the end she’s my best friend and I don’t want her to suffer. It’s a very tough situation.

“At the same point, playing against her, it’s also uncomfortable. But I don’t really want to talk about it because I said I’m not going to talk about it. She’s my best friend and I promised that.

“She’s a strong woman. I think she will get the power from somewhere. I hope it’s going to be a battle, a good match.”

Konstantin Koltsov has died at the age of 42
Image: Konstantin Koltsov has died at the age of 42

Koltsov had been a regular presence supporting Sabalenka at tournaments. The news was announced by Russia ice hockey team Salavat Yulaev Ufa, where Koltsov had been assistant coach.

It is the second tragedy to hit 25-year-old Sabalenka, whose father Sergey, also a former ice hockey player, died in 2019 at the age of 43.

Sabalenka joins Andy Murray, Jack Draper, Cameron Norrie, Coco Gauff, Jannik Sinner and Naomi Osaka in action on a star-studded day at the Masters 1000 event.

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Sky News
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