Sabalenka and Rybakina bulldoze their way into last-16 at French Open

Two of the big hitters in the women's game – second seed Aryna Sabalenka and fourth seed Elena Rybakina – powered their way into the fourth round at the French Open on Saturday with respective straight sets victories over Paula Badosa and Elise Mertens.

Rybakina appeared out of sorts during the early stages of her match on Court Philippe Chatrier against the 25th seed. Her Belgian opponent failed to profit from the lapse after breaking to lead 3-2.

She promptly coughed up her own serve to make it 3-3. And even after Mertens claimed Rybakina's service again to lead 4-3, she failed to consolidate.

Rybakina levelled for 4-4 and seemingly bored at the descent into club-level pitter-patter, she held to lead 5-4.

Mertens was still in the old groove though and lost her service again to give Rybakina the set after 37 minutes.

It was one way traffic in the second. Rybakina, a quarter-finalist in 2021, raced through it 6-2 to finish the match after 67 minutes.


"I'm happy to get through another round," said the 25-year-old Kazakh. "Every match is difficult. I was happy with the second set. I played with a little more confidence."

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