Sabalenka played her first match since the US Open disappointment and certainly lived up to the status of the number one player on the WTA Tour. The victory was spectacular as she smashed an in-form Sofia Kenin comfortably in two sets.
That performance is very bad news for Katie Boulter, who is not on the same level as Sofia Kenin and just played a rather long match. Whether she'll be fatigued remains to be seen, but I would be surprised if she looked very fresh after that one.
Boulter and Sabalenka played twice so far, and the Belarusian won both times. Neither match was particularly close, even the Wimbledon one, which went to three sets. This one will likely be even more lopsided because the conditions in Beijing suit Sabalenka so well. We saw it against Kenin.
Both players are hitters by nature, but Sabalenka is the far better player. Her first match against Kenin demonstrated how big of a problem she'll be here. She was easily dominating rallies, especially with the added time she had on each bounce.
She can be pushed, but you need to bring even more power and consistency to the rallies than she does. Only a handful of players are capable of that, and Boulter certainly isn't one of them. If the Belarusian replicates the serving she had against Kenin, it's even more unlikely that Boulter will create any kind of pressure.
Kenin barely won any points on return and I don't see Boulter faring any better. In short anything but a straight-sets victory for Sabalenka would be a major surprise so back ther Belarusian.
Prediction: Aryna Sabalenka to win in two sets.