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French Open PIX: Alcaraz through to 4th round; Sabalenka dominates

Last updated on: June 03, 2023 10:35 IST

IMAGES from Day 6 of the French Open at Roland Garros in Paris on Friday.

Spain's Carlos Alcaraz celebrates winning his third round match against Canada's Denis Shapovalov

IMAGE: Spain's Carlos Alcaraz celebrates winning his third round match against Canada's Denis Shapovalov. Photograph: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

World number one Carlos Alcaraz bludgeoned Canadian Denis Shapovalov 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 to breeze into the French Open fourth round on Friday and edge closer to the second Grand Slam title of his career.

The Spaniard was imperious and showed no mercy to set up a fourth round clash with Italy's 17th seed Lorenzo Musetti.


"I think I played at a good level the whole match," Alcaraz said. "In the second set I was in a bit of trouble a little bit as I started making more mistakes than in the first and the third set.

"But I had to be there, strong mentally, and I knew that I was going to have my chance to come back."

In the first set Alcaraz was whipping winners past the hapless 24-year-old who visibly struggled to keep up with his opponent's speed and quickly fell 5-0 behind.

The 26th-seeded Canadian snatched a game to avoid a bagel and celebrated with a big smile but it was a temporary reprieve as Alcaraz easily wrapped up the first set in 35 minutes.

The 20-year-old Spaniard, looking to add his first French Open title to last year's U.S Open triumph, eased off in the second set, allowing Shapovalov, who started moving better, to carve out a 4-1 lead.

Order, however, was quickly restored with Alcaraz rattling off the next five games and winning nine of the last 10 points to reel him in and go two sets up.

He then broke again at the start of the third set before a dizzying backhand down the line put him 4-1 ahead.

The top seed put Shapovalov out of his misery on his second match point and continued his quest for another major title.

"I reached my dream so quickly I did not expect that," he said of his success in the past 12 months. "I achieved great things in such a short period.

"My dream in tennis is to win every tournament that I play. I want to achieve more titles," he said.

Mertens ends Pegula's Grand Slam dream

Elise Mertens

IMAGE: Belgium's Elise Mertens in action during her third round match against Jessica Pegula of the US. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

World number three Jessica Pegula's hopes of hoisting her maiden Grand Slam trophy ended in despair on Friday after a 6-1, 6-3 defeat by Belgian Elise Mertens in the French Open third round.

The 29-year-old Pegula had no answer to Mertens' versatile game. Former doubles world number one Mertens used her complete arsenal of shots, including sliced forehands, drop shots, lobs and deep groundstrokes to move her opponent around and pin her back.

Jessica Pegula

IMAGE: Belgium's Elise Mertens and Jessica Pegula of the US shake hands. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Mertens, ranked 28th, was near flawless at the start, breaking the American twice in a row to race to a 5-0 lead and bag the first set in just 26 minutes.

Pegula, who had advanced into the third round after her ailing Italian opponent Camila Giorgi retired after the first set, broke Mertens early in the second but the Belgian responded in the next game.

Pegula earned another rare break point at 3-2 but sunk a three consecutive backhands into the net.

The 27-year-old Belgian took advantage of Pegula's low first serve percentage to break her again and move 5-3 clear, leaving the frustrated American to shake her head and look at her coaching box for any help.

Her ordeal was over after 82 minutes with her 28th unforced error.

Sabalenka cruises into 4th round

IMAGE: Aryna Sabalenka cruised ahead. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Aryna Sabalenka wasted no time as she whizzed into the fourth round of the French Open with a 6-2, 6-2 drubbing of Kamilla Rakhimova of Russia.

Strong on serve, the world  number two broke twice in the opening set and raced to a 3-0 lead in the second on a sunbathed court Philippe Chatrier to set up a meeting with American Sloane Stephens or Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.

Sabalenka, who beat world number one Iga Swiatek in the Madrid Open final last month, has yet to lose a set in the tournament and has now broken her third-round loss streak in Paris.

The Belarusian, whose run at Roland Garros was stopped at that stage in the three previous editions, was always in control and despite some minor blips, faced only one break point - which she saved with a second-serve ace.

"It feels amazing to feel the support and just to be on this court and have the opportunity to play tennis," the Australian Open champion said after an encounter that lasted a little over an hour.

"Every tournament is different, Roland Garros is especially different from the Australian Open because of the surface but winning gives you confidence."

Svitolina gets past Blinkova to stay on track

Elina Svitolina

IMAGE: Ukraine's Elina Svitolina in action during her third round match against Russia's Anna Blinkova. Photograph: Lisi Niesner/Reuters

Former French Open quarter-finalist Elina Svitolina moved into the Roland Garros fourth round with a determined performance to stave off giant-killing Russian Anna Blinkova and claim a 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory.

Svitolina returned to the WTA Tour at the Charleston Open in April following the birth of her daughter Skai with husband and fellow tennis player Gael Monfils and bagged her first title in two years by beating Blinkova in last week's Strasbourg final.

The former world number three, playing in the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time since the 2022 Australian Open, was staring at defeat after dropping the first set tamely but hit back to level the match and broke early in the decider.

Blinkova had stunned fifth seed Caroline Garcia in the last round and the 24-year-old refused to surrender as she clawed her way back from 1-3 and went toe-to-toe with Svitolina until 5-5 before the Ukrainian sealed the win with a superb backhand pass.

Up next for Svitolina is another Russian - last year's semi-finalist Daria Kasatkina - who beat Peyton Stearns.

Sonego stuns Rublev in five-set thriller;

World No. 48 Lorenzo Sonego on Friday scripted a stunning comeback to register a fine win over World No. 7 Andrey Rublev 5-7, 0-6, 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3.

Playing at the Court Suzanne Lenglen, the Italian showed great energy and talent, staying in points against the big-hitting Rublev to claim his sixth Top 10 victory. Sonego will next play against 11th seed Karen Khachanov in the fourth round.

Sonego entered the match on Court Suzanne-Lenglen with a 0-6 record against the Top 20 players, but mixed cunning with power to progress after three hours and 45 minutes. Following his best win of the season, the 28-year-old has risen nine places to No. 39 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

Rublev, a two-time quarter-finalist in Paris, was vying for his first major victory this week. He had a good clay swing, winning his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Monte-Carlo before reaching the Banja Luka final.

Karen Khachanov earned his 20th win at French Open when he battled hard to reach the fourth round for the sixth time. The 11th seed Khachanov defeated Australian wild card Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(5) in front of a raucous crowd on Court Simonne-Mathieu.

In 2019, Khachanov reached the quarter-finals in Paris after rallying from two sets to love down in the first round against Constant Lestienne. He hopes to reach that stage again when he plays Sonego in the last 16.

Throughout the first two sets, Khachanov played aggressively, striking 20 winners to seize control. Kokkinakis rallied by winning the third set and had the opportunity to force a deciding set, serving for the fourth set at 5-4. The 27-year-old Khachanov, on the other hand, refused to go away, saving one set point to break back before rallying from 2/4 in the fourth-set tie-break to win in three hours and 44 minutes.

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