Updated June 1st, 2024 at 20:35 IST

Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka reach French Open fourth round

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

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

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.

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

It certainly was for a while.

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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.

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Badosa said their friendship does not affect how they play.

“We have a great relationship and then when the match comes we separate things," she said. “We are opponents there but, after that and before that, we are always going to be friends.” They got to know each a few years ago at an exhibition match, “We connected very well,” Badosa said. “She's a great person. Since then, we have a very good friendship.” 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.

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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.

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Later Saturday, defending champion Novak Djokovic faces 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.

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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. Shelton was bothered by a left shoulder issue, and had it worked on by a trainer.

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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.

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

Daniil Medvedev wore leg warmers during the first set of his match against Tomas Machac, then removed them for the second set. 

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Published June 1st, 2024 at 20:35 IST