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French Open: Sabalenka, Rybakina ease into third round with easy wins

30 May, 2024 21:35 IST|Sakshi Post

Paris, May 30 (IANS) Second seed Aryna Sabalenka and No.4 seed Elena Rybakina navigated second-round hurdles in straight sets at the French Open at Stade Roland Garros on Thursday. Sabalenka needed just 62 minutes to defeat qualifier Moyuka Uchijima 6-2, 6-2, and Rybakina came from 4-2 down in the second set to beat Arantxa Rus 6-3, 6-4 in 67 minutes. Sabalenka and Rybakina joined the top seed Iga Swiatek, Ons Jaberu, and Coco Gauff.

The focus was on the match between Sabalenka and Uchijima. A day after Naomi Osaka, currently the fourth-highest ranked Japanese player, came within a point of taking out No.1 seed Swiatek, it was Japanese No.1 Uchijima's turn for the upset bid.

The World No.83 had come into the match on an eye-catching 19-match winning streak, having won three consecutive ITF titles across two surfaces and continents before successfully qualifying in Paris.

However, Sabalenka demonstrated that for all of Uchijima's form, the gulf between the levels the two players have been operating at was still significant. The two-time Australian Open champion captured the first break of the match for 3-2 with some booming returns, she did not relinquish control.

Sabalenka was rarely troubled on serve -- she faced just four break points, all in the same game at 4-2 in the second set. All four were dealt with via emphatic service winners and one to two punches. She fired 27 winners to Uchijima's 10, repeatedly teed off on return, and deployed the drop shot as effectively as her powerful groundstrokes.

Sabalenka has now reached at least the third round of her past 14 Grand Slam appearances -- her last loss before this stage came to Victoria Azarenka in the 2020 US Open second round. She will next face Paula Badosa, who edged Yulia Putintseva 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 in a battle of two former French Open quarterfinalists. Sabalenka leads their head-to-head 4-2, including the last four encounters in a row.

Rybakina rolls past Rus

Former Wimbledon champion Rybakina had to play at her best to get past a gritty Arantxa Rus in two sets. Rus has a Roland Garros upset under her belt. Back in 2011, the Dutchwoman ousted No.2 seed Kim Clijsters in the second round. At the age of 33, she's also playing some of her best tennis. Last summer, she captured her first WTA Tour title in Hamburg and as a result, made her Top 50 debut.

Rus's consistency from the back of the court, as well as some crowd-pleasing passing shots, made Rybakina work hard throughout the match. The Kazakhstani had to find her best serves to stave off two break points in the first half of the opening set; down 4-2 in the second, she came up with a pair of blistering backhands to retrieve the break immediately.

Rybakina could find another gear offensively that paid off. For all of Rus's power, the World No.50 opted for a consistent strategy, tallying 10 winners to just six unforced errors. But Rybakina took the risks off the ground and ended with a total of 28 winners to 20 unforced errors.

Rybakina will next face either No.25 seed Elise Mertens or former Roland Garros quarterfinalist Petra Martic.

Disclaimer: This story has not been edited by the Sakshi Post team and is auto-generated from syndicated feed.

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