PARIS, France – No.8 seed Aryna Sabalenka battled through to the third round of Roland Garros with a 7-6(6), 6-0 victory over Daria Kasatkina.

The Belarusian had lost her only previous encounter with the WTA World No.71 at the 2019 China Open and was stretched in a first set that went all the way to a tiebreak. Sabalenka, though, was a more convincing winner of the second, racing to seal it in 32 minutes without losing a game.

She moves on to face Nao Hibino or No.30 seed Ons Jabeur after making the last 32 for the first time in Paris.

The opening set was a rather scrappy affair, characterized by a high number of unforced errors and poor serving numbers, which meant that there were only a total of four holds in the 12 games leading up to the tiebreak. 

While Kasatkina looked the more assured player when he first serve found its mark, she was ruthless punished when it did not as she won only two of 14 points in that scenario.

Sabalenka, meanwhile, was unable to profit from her strong returning. In part this was due to 22 unforced errors in the opening frame, but also because she was making her first serve only 47% of the time.

A tiebreak was the logical outcome from such a scenario, and it also proved an unpredictable affair. The first four points went against serve but when Sabalenka moved 5-3 clear, she seemed poised to move ahead. Kasatkina rallied to earn a set point, yet the 22-year-old strung together three successive points to seal the frame. 

The pattern of both players toiling to hold serve continued at the start of the second set, with a confident Sabalenka overhead sealing an early break, which she consolidated, though only after a brief rain delay when Kasatkina held one of four break-back points she had in the game.

That proved the match’s watershed moment as the Russian was unable to live with Sabalenka thereafter.

The next three games quickly slipped away as Sabalenka lost just three points, and though Kasatkina offered some late response by working two more break points, she was unable to avoid the bagel and the exit door when she slid a backhand just wide.

Sabalenka took 90 minutes to complete a complicated victory, which was her sixth in her seven outings on clay so far in 2020, and she will now play the third round in Paris for the first time. 

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