Sabalenka, Rybakina into fourth round at Wimbledon, Kvitova sets up Jabeur clash

Sports Sunday 09/July/2023 10:51 AM
By: xinhua
Sabalenka, Rybakina into fourth round at Wimbledon, Kvitova sets up Jabeur clash

LONDON: World No. 2 Aryna Sabalenk, playing her second matches in as many days, booked a place in the last 16 after cruising past 40th-ranked Anna Blinkova 6-2, 6-3 on Saturday.

The reigning US Open winner overcame Varvara Gracheva after a three-set battle on Friday but didn't show any sign of fatigue in the match against Blinkova, who suffered a third defeat to the Belarusian in as many head-to-head clashes.

Sabalenka finished the match with 30 winners, including nine aces, and 26 unforced errors. She held Blinkova to 20 winners.

"It was a tough match. Anna played unbelievable tennis. I'm super happy to be in this match, especially the seventh game in the second set was really tight," said Sabalenka, who reached the semifinal at the All England Club two years ago.

"I have really great memories from here," the 25-year-old said of her semifinals experience in 2021.

"It was my first breakthrough. I was very, very emotional. Not emotional, I was very happy two years ago to be able to get to the second week. Since then I had more belief in myself in the Grand Slams. I don't think anymore about second week of the Grand Slam, you know? I felt a little relief after that breakthrough."

Next for the second seed is world No. 22 Ekaterina Alexandrova, who advanced to her first Slam round of 16 after defeating Dalma Galfi 6-0, 6-4.

Alexandrova, having successfully defended her title in 's-Hertogenbosch last month, lead their encounter with Sabalenka 3-2 and had won their last two meetings. They have not played since the 2022 's-Hertogenbosch final, which Alexandrova won 7-5, 6-0.

Two-time champion Petra Kvitova managed to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon for the first time since 2020 by dispatching Natalija Stevanovic 6-3, 7-5 in the opening match on No. 2 Court.

The 33-year-old No. 9 seed overcame a slow start, roaring back from an early break deficit to take the first set in a flurry of fine volleying and efficient serving. Even when Stevanovic raised her game in the second set, Kvitova came up with some superb defense en route to a break lead, before wrapping the victory in one hour and 50 minutes.

Coming to Wimbledon with her 31st WTA Tour title in Berlin two weeks ago, Kvitova will play with last year's runner-up Ons Jabeur for a place in the quarterfinals.

The Tunisian took full advantage of a weather delay that came halfway through her deciding set to defeat former US Open winner Bianca Andreescu 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to progress.

Andreescu broke for a 3-1 advantage in the decider before Jabeur broke back and play was suddenly halted by showers. The players went off court as the roof closed and the grass dried up and upon resumption of play, a sharper Jabeur found her range, breaking Andreescu for a 5-4 lead and closing out the victory after one hour and 48 minutes of play.

"I've got to thank the rain a little bit for letting me speak to my coach and have a better perspective about the match," confessed Jabeur on the court.

Defending champion Elena Rybakina eased past Katie Boulter 6-1, 6-1 in 57 minutes to set her next-round clash against No.13 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia.