No.4 seed Elena Rybakina booked her place in the Roland Garros third round for a third straight year, defeating Linda Noskova 6-3, 6-3 in 1 hour and 26 minutes.
The result was Rybakina's eighth straight victory following her first WTA 1000 clay-court title in Rome two weeks ago. The reigning Wimbledon champion extended her overall 2023 record to 32-7, also including the Indian Wells title and Australian Open final on hard courts.
Noskova, 18, made her tour-level debut exactly 12 months ago after qualifying for Roland Garros 2022. A year later, she has risen to World No.50 after an impressive transition to the Hologic WTA Tour, including a run to her first final in Adelaide this January.
How the match was won: At times, the contest seemed as though Rybakina was competing against her younger self. Both players wore identical bright pink Yonex outfits and poker-faced demeanors. Game-wise, both possessed easy power off both wings, formidable serves and impressive finesse when it was needed.
But Rybakina, five years older at 23, had the edge in experience, and it showed both in her control over her own game and her scoreboard management.
The first set was decided by two breaks. Rybakina captured the first for 2-1, a game that featured a superb backhand winner straight off a Noskova drive volley. The second was an extended final game across eight deuces; the young Czech battled hard to save the first five set points against her, only to capitulate with consecutive double faults.
In the second set, Noskova had the first opportunity in the seventh game, Rybakina's only loose service game of the match in which the Kazakh momentarily sprayed a handful of cheap errors. But Noskova was unable to take advantage of three break points; instead, it was Rybakina who gathered herself to hold, then immediately break the teenager for 5-3.
Ultimately, despite the stylistic similarities, Rybakina had the edge in every department: 30 winners to Noskova's 16; a 79% winning percentage behind her first serve compared to 65%, and 57% behind her second serve compared to 45%.
What's next for Rybakina: Having dealt with Noskova's power, Rybakina will next face a very different test in the form of Sara Sorribes Tormo, who defeated Petra Martic 6-4, 6-1 in 1 hour and 29 minutes. Sorribes Tormo was sidelined between September last year and April this year, and has slipped from a career high of No.32 to No.132. However, the Spaniard was at her indefatigable best as she reached the third round of a major for the second time in her career following the 2021 US Open.
Sorribes Tormo won her only previous encounter with Rybakina 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 in the third round of Miami 2021.
Haddad Maia hits long-awaited milestone: No.14 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia reached the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 win over Diana Shnaider in 2 hours and 43 minutes.
The Brazilian had previously been 0-7 in Grand Slam second rounds (and 1-14 in sets), but broke her duck in impressive fashion against the 19-year-old. Haddad Maia was made to battle hard by fellow left-hander Shnaider, who came from a break down to take the second set and threatened a similar comeback when she levelled at 4-4 in the decider from 4-2 down.
However, Haddad Maia held her nerve, using her experience to out-steady the World No.108 through several high-octane baseline exchanges while also seizing on opportunities for offensive play. Haddad Maia ultimately tallied 30 winners to Shnaider's 26, with the drop shot proving particularly useful as she closed out the last two games.
Shnaider, who competed at the NCAA Championships in Orlando last week for North Carolina State University but withdrew in order to travel to Paris, has now taken a Top 20 opponent to three sets in both Grand Slams she has contested. At the Australian Open in January, she fell 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 to Maria Sakkari on her tour-level debut.
Haddad Maia will next face No.23 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, who defeated Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-2, 6-0. A maiden Grand Slam second-week appearance is at stake for both players, and either Rybakina or Sorribes Tormo will await in the fourth round.