French Open: Aryna Sabalenka eases into third round; Elena Rybakina reaches R3

Sports Thursday 30/May/2024 20:23 PM
French Open: Aryna Sabalenka eases into third round; Elena Rybakina reaches R3

Paris: The second seed Aryna Sabalenka and World No. 4 Elena Rybakina advanced in the ongoing French Open 2024 after registering straight-set victories in their second-round matches, respectively, at Roland Garros on Thursday.

Sabalenka defeated qualifier Moyuka Uchijima 6-2, 6-2 in just 62 minutes, while Rybakina rallied from 4-2 down in the second set to oust Arantxa Rus 6-3, 6-4 in 67 minutes.

The 22-year-old Uchijima has only beaten one Top 50 player in her career, Petra Martic at Monastir 2022, and this was her first time against a Top 30 opponent. Sabalenka revealed that, notwithstanding Uchijima's form, the gap between the two players' performances remained large.

Uchijima's loose-swinging style and surprisingly quick forehand resulted in a flurry of winners early in the match, and she won the finest point of the match midway through the second set with a forehand pass. However, after taking the opening break of the match for 3-2 with some booming returns, the two-time Australian Open champion refused to give up control.

Sabalenka was hardly bothered on serve, facing only four break points, all at 4-2 in the second set. All four were dealt with using forceful service wins and one-two punches. She had 27 wins to Uchijima's ten, frequently teed off on returns, and used the drop shot as successfully as her powerful groundstrokes.

Sabalenka has now advanced to at least the third round in 14 Grand Slam appearances, with her last loss coming to Victoria Azarenka in the second round of the 2020 US Open. She will next face Paula Badosa, who defeated Yulia Putintseva 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 in a matchup of previous Roland Garros quarterfinalists.

Badosa is not only one of Sabalenka's greatest pals on tour; she is also a player the World No.2 will watch, despite her preference to avoid tennis outside of her matches.

"She's my favourite. I love her so much. I love to see her play, and she's really a great fighter, so it's always great matches," Sabalenka said as quoted by WTA.

"It's always tough to play your friend, your really best friend on tour, I would say. It's always tough, but we know how to manage that. We know how to separate court and life. So it's always a great battle, great fight against her. I always enjoy playing against her. We're good to separate things," she added.

Rybakina will next face either No.25 seed Elise Mertens or Petra Martic. (ANI)