Aryna Sabalenka’s bid for a maiden Grand Slam triumph are over after the number three seed crashed out of the 2021 French Open in the third round against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
The Belarusian had been tipped as a real contender for the Roland Garros title following her win at the Madrid Open but she failed to find consistency in a 4-6 6-2 0-6 defeat to the Russian in a topsy-turvy one hour and 40 minutes on Court Simonne-Mathieu.
Sabalenka had made a strong start and broke to take a 3-0 lead in the opening set. However, the 29-year-old Pavlyuchenkova, seeded at 31, responded to win six of the next seven games to take advantage of 18 unforced errors from her opponent.
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Sabalenka hit back with a much more solid showing in the second set, reducing the leaks off her racket significantly and unloading her ferocious backhand to level matters for the loss of just two games.
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The number three seed’s momentum was then checked as Pavlyuchenkova took a medical time-out. It seemed to really upset the rhythm of the 23-year-old from Minsk as she completely collapsed in a hugely one-sided decider.
Pavlyuchenkova broke at will to cruise to a 5-0 lead before serving out the bagel. She moves into round four where she will hope to emulate her best run at this tournament in reaching the quarter finals in 2011.
Sabalenka’s loss leaves Serena Williams as the only top 10 player left in the bottom half of the women’s draw.
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Watch all the action from the 2021 French Open live on Eurosport, eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app with 13-time champion Rafael Nadal eyeing a remarkable 14th title and 2020 Roland Garros sensation Iga Swiatek aiming to replicate her stunning triumph.
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