World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka defeated No.40 Anna Blinkova 6-2, 6-3 to advance to the Round of 16 at Wimbledon. The victory extended Sabalenka's record at the Slams this year to 15-1.
A semifinalist in 2021, Sabalenka next will face No.22 Ekaterina Alexandrova for a spot in the quarterfinals. Alexandrova, who successfully defended her title in s'Hertogenbosch last month, advanced to her first Slam Round of 16 after defeating Dalma Galfi 6-0, 6-4.
Sabalenka came into Saturday's third-round showdown against Blinkova with a 2-0 advantage in their head-to-head series. But Blinkova has proven herself dangerous over the past month. The 24-year-old tallied the second Top 10 win of her career at Roland Garros, edging No.5 Caroline Garcia. Then, during the grass season, she advanced to a first quarterfinal on the surface, losing to Swiatek in Bad Homburg.
Contrary to the heavy scoreline, Sabalenka was made to work for her straight-sets win. With her powerful baseline game, Blinkova did well to stay with Sabalenka in the rallies. Sabalenka's ability to break Blinkova's serve seemingly at will proved the difference. Feasting on Blinkova's second serve, Sabalenka broke serve five times over the 81-minute match.
"It was a tough match," Sabalenka said. "Anna played unbelievable tennis. I'm super happy to be in this match, especially the seventh game in the second set was really tight."
Sabalenka finished the match with 30 winners, including nine aces, to 26 unforced errors. She held Blinkova to 20 winners.
Sablaenka faces a formidable foe in the next round. Alexandrova leads their head-to-head 3-2 and has won their past two meetings. They have not played since the 2022 s'Hertogenbosch final, which Alexandrova won 7-5, 6-0. That was one of two losses Sabalenka has taken to Alexandrova in a tournament final, with the first coming at 2017 Shenzhen.
"Very aggressive player," Sabalenka said. "Super flat, fast balls coming from her. Serving well. Moving well. Hitting really clean shots. Yeah, she's a tough opponent to play against."
For the second consecutive Slam, Sabalenka has a chance to overtake Iga Swiatek at No.1. The Australian Open champion will need to reach the final to have a chance of overtaking Swiaek. If Swiatek advances to the semifinals, then Sabalenka must win the title.