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French Open 2024: Rybakina sees off Rus to move into third round, Sabalenka eases past Uchijima

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Fourth seed Elena Rybakina made a sluggish start before beating Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus 6-3 6-4 on Thursday to move into the third round of the French Open.

Rybakina, a former Wimbledon champion, made an early double fault but held in the opening game under the roof on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

The 24-year-old Kazakh seized control, firing three consecutive aces from 15-30 down for a 3-2 lead and sealed a break to take the opening set in 35 minutes.

“With a lefty I’m trying to cover the right sides of the court. In the end I’m also focusing on myself a lot and trying to push myself today with a little bit of ups and downs,” Rybakina said.

“A lot of games I was 0-40 down which I would say is not that usual for me. But she’s an experienced player and it’s not easy to play her.”

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There was little to separate the duo early in the second set before the lanky Rus took advantage of mistakes from her opponent to break for a 4-2 lead, only to surrender her serve in the next game.

“No one wants to play three sets… so I was trying to focus point by point and push myself. Energy-wise I wasn’t that happy today with myself,” Rybakina added.

Having levelled up at 4-4, Russian-born Rybakina broke again to set up the chance to settle the match on serve and she completed in style to book a meeting with Petra Martic or Elise Mertens.

Sabalenka eases past qualifier Uchijima

Second seed Aryna Sabalenka beat Japanese qualifier Moyuka Uchijima 6-2 6-2 under the roof on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Thursday to move into the French Open third round.

Uchijima, playing in the second round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time, could not cope with Sabalenka’s powerful serve and groundstrokes.

Sabalenka won six points in a row at the start of the match but once Uchijima had overcome her nerves she settled down against the Belarusian.

Uchijima held her serve but when she trailed 3-2, Sabalenka pounced on a break point with a fierce winner before taking the first set in 29 minutes.

The Japanese number one wore a sombre expression during the changeover before the second set and she had no answer to the power of Sabalenka who also played some telling drop shots.

Uchijima afforded herself a smile when she got the better of the Belarusian on a long rally to make it 4-2 but Sabalenka refocused to save a break point before breaking the Japanese player’s serve to seal victory.

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