Paris, June 1 (IANS) No.4 seed Elena Rybakina booked her place in the French Open third round for a third straight year, defeating Linda Noskova 6-3, 6-3 in 1 hour and 26 minutes, here on Thursday.
The result was Rybakina's eighth straight victory following her first WTA 1000 clay-court title in Rome two weeks ago. The reigning Wimbledon champion extended her overall 2023 record to 32-7, also including the Indian Wells title and Australian Open final on hard courts.
The 18-year old Noskova made her tour-level debut exactly 12 months ago after qualifying for Roland Garros 2022. A year later, she has risen to World No.50 after an impressive transition to the WTA Tour, including a run to her first final in Adelaide this January.
At times, the contest seemed as though Rybakina was competing against her younger self. Both players wore identical bright pink Yonex outfits and poker-faced demeanors. Game-wise, both possessed easy power off both wings, formidable serves and impressive finesse when it was needed.
But Rybakina, five years older at 23, had the edge in experience, and it showed both in her control over her own game and her scoreboard management.
Having dealt with Noskova's power, Rybakina will next face a very different test in the form of Sara Sorribes Tormo, who defeated Petra Martic 6-4, 6-1 in 1 hour and 29 minutes.
Sorribes Tormo was sidelined between September last year and April this year, and has slipped from a career high of No.32 to No.132. However, the Spaniard was at her indefatigable best as she reached the third round of a major for the second time in her career following the 2021 US Open.
Sorribes Tormo won her only previous encounter with Rybakina 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 in the third round of Miami 2021.
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