Tennis: Rybakina and Sabalenka reach French Open last 16, Auger-Aliassime also advances

AP , Saturday 1 Jun 2024

Grand Slam winners Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka reached the fourth round of the French Open in straight sets on Saturday.

Elena Rybakina
Kazakhstan s Elena Rybakina celebrates after a point as she plays against Belgium s Elise Mertens during their women s singles match on Court Philippe-Chatrier on day seven of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros Complex in Paris on June 1, 2024. AFP


The 2022 Wimbledon champion Rybakina, seeded fourth, beat Elise Mertens of Belgium 6-4, 6-2. Two-time Australian Open champion Sabalenka followed her on Court Philippe Chatrier and won 7-5, 6-1 against Paula Badosa.

“It’s tough to play your best friend,” Sabalenka said.

It certainly was for a while.

After trailing 5-3 in the first set, Sabalenka won eight straight games to take complete control.

“I was just feeling myself and trusting my shots,” Sabalenka said.

The former No. 1-ranked Sabalenka’s best performance at Roland Garros is reaching the semifinals while Rybakina — the only player from Kazakhstan to win a major title — has one quarterfinal appearance here.

Rybakina dropped her serve in the seventh game of the first set but broke straight back to tie her match at 4-4.

Russian-born Varvara Gracheva of France advanced to the fourth round of a major for the first time after downing Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 7-5, 6-3.

Later Saturday, defending champion Novak Djokovic faced No. 30 seed Lorenzo Musetti in a rematch from 2021, when Musetti won the first two sets before retiring in the fifth.

No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev, who won the Italian Open last month, plays 26th-seeded Tallon Griekspoor.

In other men's third-round play, 21st-seeded Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime beat No.15-seeded American Ben Shelton 6-4, 6-2, 6-1. Their match resumed after being interrupted by rain on Friday evening.

Auger-Aliassime has never reached the quarterfinals here, and must get past two-time major winner Carlos Alcaraz of Spain.

For the fifth consecutive day, rain interrupted play.

At around 1 p.m. rain fell again, with a chilly wind and an unappealing temperature of 14 degrees Celsius (57 Fahrenheit).

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