Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev all came through their third-round matches in straight sets on Friday
It’s time to say au revoir on today’s French Open blog. Thanks for reading and we’ll be back again tomorrow.
She had some awkward moments but a good old shout to herself did the trick for Serena Williams as she closes out victory in straight sets.
Williams is closing in! She breaks again to go 5-4 up in the second.
Collins droops a tame second serve into the net to go 0-30 down and Serena senses the kill, setting up three break points with a driven forehand volley from Collins’ defensive lob and taking the first of them. Williams about to serve for the match.
Williams starts the eighth with two service winners before the drama builds with a Serena forehand which smashes into the net but drops back on her own side. But 30-15 quickly becomes ‘Jeu Williams’ as she wins the next two points. There’s another shout of satisfaction: 4-4.
The second seed drops just eight games on the way to victory. It’s a dominant display and on he goes to the next round.
Meanwhile, it’s Collins’ turn to get frustrated now as she aims a little kick at her racket on the way to being broken in game seven. Williams now serving to level the second set up at 4-4.
Williams is now into full gee herself up mode, shouting ‘c’mon’ very loudly several times as she comes back from 0-15 to win the sixth with four straight points. Collins’ lead in the second is cut to 4-1.
Back to the Mededev game briefly and the second seed is serving to win the match against Opelka. They’ve been on court just 96 minutes.
Collins has all the momentum now. She wins the fifth game to love (that’s eight points in a row) to leap into a 4-1 lead in set two.
Collins looks to be sensing something here as she puts away a volley to take the opening point on Serena’s serve. Williams wins the next three before applauding Collins’ deft drop shot at 40-15. Williams then looks rather deflated as the younger American powers a backhand down the line to force deuce and Collins cashes in, forcing a break and then benefitting from a fourth Williams double fault.
Williams berates herself for a loose cross-court backhand which sails way out, giving Collins a 2-1 lead.
The total points count, if that really means much, is close: Williams 41, Collins 40.
Williams breaks Collins in the opening game of the second set but she’s still hitting the odd strange shot and her opponent has three break points to hit back in kind. Collins takes the third one although is handed it via a Serena double fault. 1-1.
Medvedev has a break in the third set against Opelka and now leads 3-1. It seems there is little the 32nd seed can do after winning just seven games so far.
Another seed with a two-set lead is Carreno Busta (12), who takes the second 6-4, just as he did the first. Johnson just serving at the start of the third.
Back out to Court Suzanne-Lenglen and Medvedev is now two sets up (6-4, 6-2) against Opelka. Everything ticking along nicely for the second seed. It’s 1-1 in the third.
Williams takes the first set against Collins, winning it 6-4 in 41 minutes.
A pair of double faults – her first of the contest – leave Serena looking shaky at 0-30 but, helped by a fifth ace at 30-30, she reels off the next four points to see it out.
Williams has a break point in the eighth but Collins holds firm to stay in the set. Serena now serving to win it. She’s hit four aces so far.
Thanks Luke. Just checking and Serena Williams hasn’t won a Grand Slam since the 2017 Australian Open.
It’s dangerous to write these sporting legends off though. Who would have thought at the start of 2019 that the next couple of seasons would bring major wins for Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson?
And with that, I will love you (in a tennis sense) and leave you. David Tindall will guide you through the rest of the afternoon’s action. If you get a chance to catch the highlights or a replay of Alejandro Davidovich Fokina’s five-set epic against Casper Ruud, make sure you do it! It was ace. Over to you, David.
Opelka holds for 5-2. Williams and Collins, meanwhile, are with serve at 3-3 in the first. On Court Simonne Mathieu, Pablo Carreño Busta (12) leads Steve Johnson 4-2 in the second set, having taken the first 6-4.
Medvedev leads Opelka 5-1, closing on a two-set lead in under an hour. Opelka booms down a couple of big serves as he tries to stay in the second set.
Giron hits back against Garin on Court 7 and takes the second set 7-5. Garin won the first 6-1.
Out on Court 14, another women’s singles match has just got under way: Sorana Cirstea (ranked 54) v Daria Kasatkina (ranked 37).
Williams and Collins are locked at 2-2 in the first on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
Medvedev breezes to a 3-0 lead in the second set against the man-mountain Opelka.
Medvedev is outclassing Opelka, he’s 2-0 up in the second set, having taken the first 6-4.
Williams, meanwhile, makes Collins work to hold her second service game of the match. Collins, who is ranked 50, eventually does so and leads 2-1 in the first, with serve.
Check out this Medvedev return. Tasty.
The seventh seed Serena Williams – three times a women’s singles champion at Roland Garros – is on court and in action against Danielle Rose Collins, who also hails from the USA.
Collins has held serve and is 1-0 up so far, with Williams in her first service game as I type.
Medvedev wins the first set, 6-4. His opponent Reilly Opelka is 6’11” tall, by the way. He’s sporting an eye-catching pink outfit with a white cap. He is the joint-tallest player ever on the ATP Tour, tied with Ivo Karlovic. Beat that!
Medvedev will serve for the first set against Opelka. He’d never won a match at Roland Garros before this year. (Thanks Eurosport for the factoid.)
Cristian Garin (seeded 22) took his first set against Marcos Giron, 6-1, and now leads 3-2 in the second. Pablo Carreño Busta, meanwhile, seeded 12th, fought back to win the first set against Steve Johnson, 6-4.
A great moment.
Alejandro with the UPSET
Phew, what a wonderful display. Right – what else is going on? The ice-cool Russian, Medvedev, is 4-3 and a break up against Opelka on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
Wow – that was just stunning tennis. Davidovich Fokina produces a huge serve, Ruud can only pat it back long, and Davidovich Fokina sinks to the clay, looking simply stunned at having finally got over the line and achieved a fantastic result against the 15th seed. He’s into the last 16 of a slam for the second time in his career. What a performance! What a match! There is loads of respect between these two young players as they greet each other at the net. A tremendous display from both men. Well played! Davidovich Fokina meets Delbonis in the next round.
Davidovich Fokina saves Ruud’s latest break point with a punishing smash to the body. The crowd are in raptures …
WOW! Davidovich Fokina now jumps into a backhand and smokes it across the court! It’s another match point after 15 minutes of this game … and he’s done it!!!!
Ruud gets back in Davidovich Fokina’s face with two excellent, excellent forehands and gets a break point. Davidovich Fokina tries a cheeky underarm drop serve at break point! Ruud nets the return!
Davidovich Fokina sends that fourth match point long. Deuce No 6. This is draining to watch.
Davidovich Fokina dumps an easy forehand into the net! Back to deuce again … and another massive first serve, and a fourth match point for the Malaga man!
Here’s a report from Tumaini Carayol of today’s action, including Sabalenka’s exit against Pavlyuchenkova:
Back to deuce – Ruud falls over and hits a backhand wide, and it’s another match point for Davidovich Fokina, his third. Can he seal it?
Davidovich Fokina gets a second match point … and hits a forehand into the net, going for glory!
Now a break-back point for Ruud – but Davidovich Fokina cracks an ace down the middle!
“You couldn’t have scripted it any better,” insists the Eurosport man on the mic. Commentary bingo!
Ruud is under all sorts of pressure but tries a lob … Davidovich Fokina slips as he attempts to get back to return it! The umpire comes for a look at the mark, and rules that the lob touched the line. Huge drama!
The 21-year-old Davidovich Fokina, who hails from Malaga, finds a stunning drop shot for match point!
Very, very impressive from the 22-year-old Caspar Ruud, hitting the ball crisply all around the court, moving in behind a big forehand, and earning a break point … but Davidovich Fokina serves big, and it’s deuce!
In this five-set belter, Ruud is 15-30 on Davidovich Fokina’s serve now …
But he mishits a forehand, and it’s 30-30. The young Spaniard is two points away.
Second seed Daniil Medvedev has begun his third-round match against Reilly Opelka over on Court Suzanne Lenglen. In addition, Pablo Carreno Busta and Steve Johnson are in the first set, with Johnson 4-3 up right now.
Stunning backhand pass from Davidovich Fokina! A fourth break point for the Spaniard … and he makes it! Ruud sends the ball long and Davidovich Fokina can serve for the match.
Cor! Biiiig backhand winner from Davidovich Fokina to bring it back to deuce on Ruud’s serve. And now Ruud earns a third break point of the game against his better-ranked opponent.
So, on Court 14, it’s a real classic unfolding. Ruud (seeded 15) is serving to save a couple of break points against Davidovich Fokina. He wins a long, punishing rally for 30-40, then produced an ace for deuce! The fans are transfixed by this one.
C’est ça. Zverev holds to love, and reaches the fourth round for the fourth year in a row. Djere will be kicking himself, still, about that second set. But it’s all good experience.
It’s now 5-5 over on Court 7. “Vamos!” yells Davidovich Fokina as he holds serve.
Djere manages to hold serve. Yet Zverev will serve for a straight-sets win and a place in the last 16 of the French Open. He is 5-2 up.
Ruud leads 5-4 against Davidovich Fokina, with the latter serving to stay in the match.
Djere has a game point – but double-faults. His body language is awful, he just doesn’t want to be out there anymore, knowing it’s only a matter of time before his misery is ended by Zverev.
Zverev and Djere are at deuce. Zverev can smell blood, and takes on a big backhand after a massive forehand return to start with, but it falls just long.
Ruud and Davidovich Fokina now locked at 4-4 in the fifth.
Zverev eases into a 5-1 third-set lead. He is one game away from the last 16 at Roland Garros.
Ruud and Davidovich Fokina are treating the sodden fans to a classic on Court 14: Ruud leads 4-3 in the fifth and final set. Meanwhile, Marcos Giron and the 22nd seed Cristian Garin have just started their third-round match on Court 7.
The common or garden Roland Garros super slow-mo celebration replay:
This is going to be over fairly quickly, it seems: Zverev has just eased into a 4-1 third-set lead against his demoralised opponent. 6-2, 7-5, 4-1, and Djere (which the commentators are pronouncing ‘Jerry’) is staring down the barrel.
Love hold for Zverev. He’s won eight out of nine games now.
Djere holds for 2-1. His loyal band of supporters clap their hands and cheer. Their man is fighting again, having been so annoyed at the way he lost the second set. Zverev is still in control mind you. The narrative seems to have been set, but can Djere again find that level he achieved in the second set, when he was matching – and bettering – the German in the longer exchanges?
Zverev has gone 2-0 up in the third set now and has won seven games in a row.
The commentator Jo Durie has just mentioned reading our news story about Yana Sizikova’s arrest in a match-fixing investigation. Here’s the piece from Tumaini Carayol:
The 27th-seeded Italian is dumped out, surprisingly, and the world No 51 Delbonis reaches the last 16 of a slam for the first time.
Zverev has a little row with the umpire about a line call. Djere has a break point, and tries to win it with a lob, but it drops long, and Zverev has avoided letting that little disagreement with the umpire put him off.
“Word gets round the locker room very quickly if you’re a quitter,” observes Jo Durie in the commentary box, suggesting that Djere has to keep motoring here and avoid a complete capitulation, which would cost him in terms of his reputation among his fellow pros.
Zverev crunches an ace down the middle as if to reinforce his dominance. He then produces a 135mph serve, his quickest of the match, and unsurprisingly wins that point as well. A clean winner from Djere on Zverev’s second serve, though, now brings deuce.
Djere’s focus seems to have evaporated after he threw away that second set – or had it wrestled from him by his opponent Zverev. The German breaks to move 1-0 ahead in the third set and it feels very much as if Zverev has a total strangehold on his match.
Djere, it emerges on replay, smashed a ball into the stands in pure frustration on losing that last game.
Casper Ruud and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina are into a fifth set: Ruud just won the fourth set 6-0. Delbonis is on the verge of beating Fognini in straight sets.
“Come on!” Zverev yells in delight after winning the second set and understandably so – he saved three set points at 5-3 and 40-0 down.
Djere came from two sets down to defeat Miomir Kecmanović a couple of days ago, but it is very hard to see him pulling off the same here.
Zverev moves 6-5 up with another break of serve and Djere is visibly disgusted with himself, after having three set points a few moments ago. Zverev to serve for a two-set lead.
Laaksonen has packed it in against Nishikori.
The German holds for 5-5, despite a double fault during that game. Here’s a big test for Djere, who could do with a nice easy hold to calm his nerves. But he’s not getting many free points from Zverev right now.
Zverev breaks to make it 4-5! That’s some serious fight from Zverev, who was a point away from ceding the first set. Djere crashes a ball into the clay in frustration – he should be home and dry in this second set, but now he’s in a dogfight.
Great hustle from Zverev as he fights back from 40-0 down to deuce, with Djere on the verge of sealing the set … and now he wins a break point!
Delbonis has gone 3-0 up in the third against the racquet-puncher Fognini.
Nishikori, meanwhile, has won the first set against Laaksonen, 7-5.
The umpire calls for new balls after Zverev holds serves to make it 5-3. Zverev has drifted out of this match somewhat, and Djere will now serve for the second set.
Djere, the 26-year-old Serbian, holds to lead 5-2.
Break for Djere! He seals it by winning the best rally of the match! It’s 4-2 and we’ve got ourselves a game on. Djere mixed it up nicely in that long rally, holding back with a sliced backhand here and there, and showing impressive patience before stretching Zverev sufficiently to force the error from his opponent. Zverev nets a backhand, while on the run, and Djere is well in control of this second set at the moment.
Djere moves to 0-30 on the Zverev serve, partly thanks to a double fault. He takes on a big down-the-line winner to try and earn three break points but again, it’s just outside the tramline, and perhaps he didn’t need to take that on. Anyway, he does eventually earn a break point, at 30-40 …
In terms of power, Zverev has looked a little less dominant in the last few minutes, but suddenly he fires back with a fizzing double-handed backhand that is simply too hot for Djere to handle. Zverev goes on to earn two break points at 15-40 … and he wins the first one as Djere sends a forehand an inch or two wide. Zverev breaks back, and it’s 3-2 in the second set.
Djere tries an astonishing cross-court pass on the first point of Zverev’s service game, but it drops fractionally wide. However, it’s another sign that the Serbian is feeling confident and ready to take shots on, where previously he looked tentative and nervy.
Zverev holds, and it’s 3-1 in the second.
Djere, all of a sudden, clearly believes he can match Zverev in the longer rallies. He gets the better of the German in a long exchange at deuce on his own serve, smashing a volleyed winner to the corner, and then converting his advantage to lead 3-0 in the second set. He has a small band of vocal fans who are on their feet and singing as their man begins to grow into this match more and more.
Rain-soaked fans are currently cheering on the Roland Garros ground staff as they try to clear water from the uncovered courts:
Three break points for Djere! He converts the first thanks to an unforced error by Zverev, who sends a forehand wide, and Djere leads this second set 2-0. That game was a scrappy affair from the German and Djere is back in this.
Beautiful play from Zverev, getting right over the top of Djere’s second serve, and returning it with punishing force and accuracy to his opponent’s forehand side. Djere manages to stay in the point for a few shots, but it’s only a matter of time, and Zverev clips an efficient volley to the corner which Djere can’t reach.
All that said – Djere holds serves after all, and leads the second set 1-0.
Zverev has won 73% of points on his first serve, and 83% on his second.
Zverev holds to love, with no momentum shift in sight for Djere. He takes the first set 6-2.
Here is Fognini punching his racquet a little earlier:
Piove: gioco interrotto a Parigi.
E le cose non si mettono bene per Fabio Fognini, che è sotto per 2 set a 0 contro Federico Delbonis.
L’argentino conduce per 6-4 6-1.#RolandGarros | #RG2021pic.twitter.com/mc6W0pNEwm
Fognini, apparently, punched the strings of his racquet and needed a medical timeout, with claret everywhere, in his ongoing match against Delbonis.
Now, Zverev is serving for the set.
Boom! Djere pounces on a rare short ball from his opponent and crushes a forehand winner to the corner. It’s 5-2. Far too early to suggest that’s a momentum-shifter of a shot, but it will feed the Serbian’s confidence a little.
Deuce on Djere’s serve. Zverev engineers a delicate drop shot from the baseline, and Djere can’t get there fast enough to dig it out. Break and set point. Zverev goes for glory with a brave forehand down the line, but it’s just wide, and back to deuce.
Zverev goes 5-1 up. Djere capitulated in that game to a certain extent with a couple of sloppy errors. He immediately finds a very good winner to begin his service game, however.
With his flowing locks of fair hair, bandana and copious gold jewellery (including a medallion), there is a distinctly 1970s vibe to Zverev’s look. Nothing wrong with that, either. Meanwhile, Djere gathers himself to hold serve to love, which is a foothold in the match, and it’s 4-1.
Zverev closes out another comfortable hold with a cleanly-hit ace. It’s 4-0.
Zverev breaks again! He’s 3-0 up and playing some accomplished stuff against Djere, the Hungarian who is ranked 55.
Meanwhile, Delbonis is two sets to the good against Fognini: 6-4, 6-1, while Nishikori leads Laaksonen 6-5 in the first on Court Simonne Mathieu.
Concerning news: Russian tennis player Yana Sizikova has been arrested in Paris by French police as part of a match fixing investigation. Here is Tumaini Carayol’s story:
Zverev forces deuce on Djere’s serve, crafting a rally beautifully from the back of the court, varying the pace and direction of his shots, before ending it with a cross-court forehand pass that loops away from Djere – who can only shake his head and wonder how he is going to live with this quality of hitting from the other side of the net …
Zverev moves 2-0 up by holding his first service game. Then there’s a lovely forehand winner, angled down the line, as a reminder to Djere that merely holding serve isn’t going to be entirely straightforward against a player of Zverev’s calibre.
Thanks David. All happening: Zverev breaks Djere at the first time of asking. Meanwhile, the retractable roof above Philippe-Chatrier is being closed to keep the rain out, which has obviously now rolled over Paris, having been soaking the south of England for most of the morning. These players are famously tough, though, and are carrying on regardless as the roof closes above them with not a towel in sight.
I’ll hand you back to Luke McLaughlin to bring hot news of the lengthy first game in the Zverev-Djere clash.
Big applause now on Philippe-Chatrier as Alexander Zverev, the sixth seed, starts out against Serbia’s Laslo Djere. It’s their first meeting at Roland Garros.
Zverev was a quarter-finalist here in both 2018 and 2019 while going out in the fourth round last year.
Nishikori has three break points in the fifth game but can’t take any of them.
Laaksonen survives that but Nishikori holds serve and then breaks to love in the seventh to go 4-3 ahead.
A couple of stats to tell the story of the Azarenka v Keys game.
Keys hit nearly three times as many winners (17 to Azarenka’s 6) but made a whopping 33 unforced errors in the 16 games they played. Azarenka’s count was 12.
Out to Court Simonne-Mathieu now where Japan’s Kei Nishikori is doing battle with Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen. It’s early days, with former US Open finalist Nishikori holding in the fourth game to make it 2-2 in the first set.
Out on Court 14, Norway’s Casper Ruud continues to have his problems against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. The Spaniard won the first set on a tie-break before 15th seed Ruud hit back to take the second 6-2. But Davidovic Fokina is now 3-0 up in the third.
Azarenka mistakenly thinks she’s served an ace at 30-30 but it’s called out. The second serve is long and the double fault gives Keys a break point but she hits a poor groundstroke halfway up the net, audibly giving herself a ticking off.
Azarenka, aided by a little luck at 30-15, holds serve to go 5-2 up. No margin for error now from Keys.
Over on Court Suzanne-Lenglen, Federico Delbonis leads Fabio Fognini, the 27th seed, 5-4 in the opener and will be serving to win the set.
Azarenka doesn’t wilt and survives some heavy Keys groundstrokes to reel off the next three points and take it to 30. The 15th seed leads 4-2 and is now just two games away from victory.
Keys holds to reduce the deficit to 3-2 and now she’s 30-15 up on the Azarenka serve in the next. A change in momentum here perhaps.
Keys gets a game back by winning the fourth but is still a break down at 1-3 in the second set against Azarenka.
Thanks Luke. I’ll try and be the no-frills doubles partner that hogs the net and blocks a few back.
Azarenka goes 3-0 up in the second, having won eight games in a row. Keys is not at the races.
In the men’s singles, meanwhile: Alejandro Davidovich Fokina won his first set against Casper Ruud on a tie-breaker, but Ruud has just gone 4-1 up in the second set. And Federico Delbonis is 3-1 up on Fabio Fognini in their first set.
Over on Philippe-Chatrier, Azarenka has broken Keys in the second and leads 2-0 after winning the first set 6-2.
On Court 7, Zidansek and Siniakova are into a third and final set. Siniakova dominated the first set, 6-0, before Zidansek took the second set on a tie-breaker.
All over. Pavlyuchenkova reaches the last 16 for the second time in her career – the last time she did so was 10 years ago. Sabalenka, in the second set, started to hit the ball in fearsome style and took it comfortably, 6-2. Pavlyuchenkova took a medical timeout – I am not sure what the problem was – and all the momentum that the world No 4 had built up seemed to disappear. However, Pavlyuchenkova played an excellent match, was far more consistent than her opponent, who produced a litany of unforced errors and is knocked out. At least Sabalenka will be able to say she took her shots on, and went down all guns blazing, even if blazing in accurately for the most part.
Sabalenka edges to 30-30 with Pavlyuchenkova serving for the match. Can she strike back and find something in this third set?
Azarenka wins the first set against Keys, 6-2.
Break point for Pavlyuchenkova – and Sabalenka loses her composure again and crashes a big forehand very wide. It’s 5-0 in the deciding set, and surely, it’s all over.
Now 4-0, as Pavlyuchenkova holds, and moves a step closer to the last 16.
Sabalenka double-faults to kick off this service game, which she has to win to retain a slender chance of recovery.
Deep trouble for Sabalenka, who now falls 3-0 behind in the third and final set. The precision of Pavlyuchenkova has been eye-catching in these past three games. Can Sabalenka, the world No 4, harness her power effectively once again as she did in that second set?
Super stuff from Pavlyuchenkova, working her opponent around the court and fashioning the chance for a winner, and she has a chance to move 2-0 up in this decisive set … which she does! Much as in the first set, frustration is creeping in for Sabalenka.
Sabalenka makes it to 0-30 on her opponents serve, then nets a shot, much to her frustration. A brilliant volley from Pavlyuchenkova, on her toes, makes it 30-30 and now Sabalenka forces a break point.
Azarenka has broken Keys, and leads 4-2 in the first.
Pavlyuchenkova breaks! You have to wonder what the medical issue was. A cynic may suggest she simply took a few minutes out to try and stop Sabalenka’s momentum, which was looking unstoppable.
Pavlyuchenkova is now back on court for the third set against Sabalenka. The No 3 seed is serving first in this deciding set. She double-faults twice to hand her opponent two break points. As suspected, that break for the medical timeout hasn’t done Sabalenka any good.
Azarenka holds for 2-2 in the first set against Keys. Both have started the match well, both striking the ball sweetly, and looking pretty evenly matched in the rallies.
Pavlyuchenkova has just walked off court for a medical timeout. If nothing else, that will interrupt Sabalenka’s rhythm: she was seeing it like a football in that second set, which she won 6-2.
It’s with serve in the Azarenka v Keys match, at 2-1 to Keys, although it’s 30-30 on Azarenka’s serve now.
In the battle of the Elenas, Rybakina has knocked out Vesnina, 6-1, 6-4.
Sabalenka takes the second set, 6-2. Pavlyuchenkova simply couldn’t live with her opponent’s power and precision during that set. Sabalenka lacked precision in the first set, but has certainly found her range now, and there is going to be plenty of work to do for Pavlyuchenkova now.
This is great to watch from Sabalenka, unless you are Pavlyuchenkova’s coach. Seemingly effortlessly she goes to 0-30 with a pass and a cleanly returned winner. And now to 0-40, three set points.
The quality of Sabalenka’s hitting is looking more and more ominous for Pavlyuchenkova now. Sabalenka holds for 5-2, peppering her opponent with powerful groundstrokes, including one superb clean winner on her forehand side.
An astonishingly good double-handed backhand return, which almost kisses the line right in the corner, creates two break points for Sabalenka. Pavlyuchenkova did not have a hope of getting close to that one. Sabalenka converts the first break point, and leads 4-2. She doesn’t over-celebrate, either, but looks quietly satisfied that her power hitting is starting to tell on the scoreboard.
A comfortable Sabalenka hold for 3-2 in the second set.
Meanwhile, Victoria Azarenka (15) and Madison Keys (23) are about to begin their third-round match on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
Pavlyuchenkova, who is certainly looking the more consistent player, holds for 2-2. Sabalenka’s power is unstoppable when she gets it right, and she it not hesitating to attack, but she is also making too many errors in comparison with her opponent at the moment.
Sabalenka puts away a forehand volley efficiently and holds comfortably for 2-1.
Sabalenka has started this second set with renewed focus and is hitting the ball with serious authority compared to the second half of that first set. She goes on the attack to try and save a game point at 40-30, but sends a forehand wide, and it’s 1-1.
Sabalenka holds serve impressively to open the second set, winning the first point with a cute drop-shot, and the second with another booming groundstroke to the baseline.
Rybakina and Vesnina are now 2-2 in the second set, after Rybakina took the first 6-1.
Over on Court 7, Katerina Siniakova took her first set against Tamara Zidansek 6-0, but Zidansek now leads 3-2 in the second.
Pavlyuchenkova moves in behind a first serve and volleys decisively to take the first set, 6-4. It was very much a set of two halves, with Sabalenka sprinting out of the blocks and into a 3-0 lead. But a catalogue of errors by the Belarusian handed the initiative to Pavlyuchenkova, who won five straight games and sealed the set comfortably in the end.
Unforced errors all over the place from Sabalenka. She dumps the first return of the game into the net, then sends a backhand long to gift Pavlyuchenkova a 30-0 advantage.
Sabalenka holds, sealing the game with a big serve that was called out by a line judge. The umps leaves his seat to take a look at the mark, and rules it good. However, the Russian Pavlyuchenkova will now serve for the first set, at 5-4.
A smart serve-volley from Pavlyuchenkova sees her save the break point, and she then takes the game for 5-3 in the first set. Sabalenka is clearly a bit frustrated with her game, and is occasionally venting her anger by winding up a huge forehand, or an unreasonably powerful second serve.
Pavlyuchenkova attempts a delicate drop-volley which would put her 40-0 up on her serve, but places it fractionally wide. Sabalenka forces it to 30-30, and then absolutely destroys a brilliantly powerful forehand down the line for a break point. Much more like it from the Russian.
Tennis – bloody hell! Pavlyuchenkova has now won four straight games and leads 4-3 in the first set. This one could get interesting.
It’s 3-3 and all square in the first set between Pavlyuchenkova and Sabalenka.
Sabalenka finds a couple of break points now, but the 29-year-old Pavlyuchenkova does well to bring it back to deuce in this sixth game of the first set. Our Eurosport commentator informs us that this is the 14th time Pavlyuchenkova has played at Roland Garros, which is quite a record.
Sabalenka now saves a game point with a few massive groundstrokes that wear Pavlyuchenkova down with sheer force … however, the Russian eventually finds a way.
And now Pavlyuchenkova finds a break of her oppenents serve, and is right back in this first set at 3-2.
Pavlyuchenkova is now on the board: it’s 3-1 in Sabalenka’s favour.
Elsewhere, Elena Rybakina (21) now leads Elena Vesnina 5-0 in their first set.
On Court Simonne Mathieu, Aryna Sabalenka (3) has raced into a 3-0 first-set lead against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (31). Sabalenka is the top-seeded player left in the women’s competition, following the withdrawals of Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka.
The debate on Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from this tournament rumbles on. Watch a video explainer, featuring the thoughts of our tennis reporter Tumaini Carayol, right here:
Yesterday we saw Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Iga Swiatek, among others, progress safely to the third round at Roland Garros, while the women’s world No 1, Ash Barty, was forced to retire from her match against Magda Linette with a hip injury. There was also a notable flare-up over slow play between Federer and his opponent Marin Cilic.
There was no shortage of action and drama on Thursday, so what will Friday bring? In the women’s singles, Victoria Azarenka faces Madison Keys from 11am, and Serena Williams will be on court at 3pm for a third-round match against compatriot Daniel Rose-Collins.