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Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina reach 4th round at French Open

Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina reach 4th round at French Open

Second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka momentarily set aside her relationship with Spaniard Paula Badosa to win a hard-fought 7-5, 6-1 third-round match at the French Open on Saturday, keeping her dreams for her first Roland Garros crown alive.

“It is difficult to play your best friend. “She’s an incredible player coming back from injury, and I’m confident she’ll be back on top very soon,” Sabalenka said, improving her head-to-head record with Badosa to 5-2. “On the court, we are opponents. I’m trying not to watch from the other side, just to focus on myself and deliver my best game, but they’re tough matches against her.” Also read: Novak Djokovic Felt Water Bottle Incident Impacted Him During Italian Open Loss

Sabalenka overcame a 5-3 deficit in the first set by winning eight straight games. Sabalenka hit a spectacular drop to set up match point, and the last blow came in the form of an unforced error from Badosa’s racket, but that setback was swiftly followed by a loving hug at the net.

“I was just feeling myself and trusting my shots,” Sabalenka explained. Badosa stated that their friendship has no bearing on their playing style. “We have a great relationship, and then when the match comes, we separate things,” she explained. “We are opponents there, but after that and before that, we are always going to be friends.”

Former No. 1 Sabalenka’s highest Roland Garros performance came in the quarterfinals, while Rybakina, Kazakhstan’s sole major championship winner, has made one quarterfinal appearance.

Sabalenka, who is aiming to become the first player since Serena Williams in 2015 to win both the Australian and French Opens in the same season, will next face American Emma Navarro, who defeated Madison Keys 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3).

Rybakina will face 19th-ranked Elina Svitolina of Ukraine in the fourth round, after she upset 64th-ranked Ana Bogdan 7-5, 6-2. Varvara Gracheva of France, who was born in Russia, went to the fourth round of a major for the first time after defeating Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu 7-5, 6-3. Also read: Jannik Sinner To Play In French Open only if 100% fit

For over five hours, the only play took place under the canopies of Court Philippe Chatrier and Court Suzanne Lenglen. Singles play began elsewhere at 5:37 p.m. local time, with Elina Avanesyan defeating Australian Open runner-up Zheng Qinwen 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(6). Avanesyan led 5-2 in the third set, but Zheng forced a tiebreaker, extending an already lengthy day.

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