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French Open 2024: Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina reach the fourth round at Roland Garros | Tennis News


Aryna Sabalenka secured a hard-fought victory over best friend Paula Badosa at the French Open on Saturday, while Elena Rybakina joined her in the fourth round.

Sabalenka and Spaniard Badosa have enjoyed a strong bond since 2021 but there was no quarter given as the world No 2 kept alive her hopes of a maiden Roland Garros title with a 7-5 6-1 victory.

Sabalenka came close to dropping her first set of the tournament. Badosa broke serve three times in the opener to lead 5-3 before Sabalenka stormed back to win four games in a row, going on to power past her opponent in the second set.

Form

With Aryna Sabalenka joining Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff and Elena Rybakina, this is the first time the top four seeds in the women’s singles have reached the R16 at Roland Garros since 2013.

“It’s tough to play your best friend,” two-time Australian Open Sabalenka said during her on-court interview. “She’s an incredible player, coming back after injury, and I’m pretty sure she’s going to be back on top very soon. It’s very tough, but we’re good to separate things.

“On court… I’m trying not to watch the other side, just to focus on myself and bring my best game.”

Rybakina eases past Belgium’s Mertens

World No 4 Elena Rybakina continued to fly under the radar as she enjoyed a routine 6-4 6-2 win over Belgium’s Elise Mertens to ease into the fourth round.

Rybakina, a former Wimbledon champion, is looking to improve on her best performance of quarter-finalist on the Paris red clay, in 2021.

The Russian-born Kazakh lost her serve twice in the first set but maintained the upper hand by breaking all of the Belgian’s remaining serves in the set.

Strong shots and better serving in the second set allowed the 24-year-old Rybakina to end the match in little over an hour.

“In the second set I was playing with a bit more confidence and my serve improved,” Rybakina said.

Rybakina’s adaptability

Elena Rybakina is now only the third player to reach multiple Grand Slam R16s on clay and grass court since the start of the 2020 season, after Ons Jabeur and Iga Swiatek.

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