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French Open: Sabalenka, Rybakina, Qinwen advance as Kerber is sent packing

Author : IANS

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Paris, May 28 (IANS) Top stars including second seed Aryna Sabalenka, fourth seed Elena Rybakina, and No.7 seed Zheng Qinwen of China advanced to the second round of women's singles at the French Open here on Tuesday. Three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber failed to reach the next round of the clay-court grand slam as she went down to Dutch player Arantxa Rus, who won 6-4, 6-3.

Sabalenka cruised into the second round of the French Open with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Erika Andreeva on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

The two-time reigning Australian Open champion needed just 1 hour and 8 minutes to move through to the second round and drop the elder of the two Andreeva sisters to 0-3 in Grand Slam main draws in her career.

Already 2-0 against the younger of the two, top 40-ranked Mirra Andreeva, Sabalenka broke the World No.100's serve five times, and tripled her opponent's total of winners, to win her first-ever match against 19-year-old Erika. Sabalenka hit 27 winners to just 16 unforced errors in the 15 games that the two played.

Rybakina started slowly but was near-untouchable as she defeated Greet Minnen 6-2, 6-3 in the first round of Roland Garros.

The former Wimbledon champion was playing her first match in over three weeks, since her defeat in the semifinals in Madrid to Sabalenka, after illness forced her to withdraw from Rome.

There was some rust in her game at the start of the match as she began with eight straight unforced errors, including a double fault to drop serve in the opening game.

In the end, she squandered her first match point at 5-1 with a netted drop shot attempt and needed a second chance to serve out victory.

But for the majority of the match, Rybakina was in dazzling form. From 2-0 down, she rattled off 10 successive games, raining winners down on Minnen from all parts of the court. The Kazakhstan player's forehand was the bedrock of her run, but she also deployed successful drop shots repeatedly and was quick to swarm the net when the opportunity presented itself. In total, she fired 36 winners to 21 unforced errors and won 14 out of 21 points at the net.

Chinese star Zheng Qinwen ended the final French Open tournament of the chequered career of Alizé Cornet as the No.7 seed romped to a 6-2, 6-1 victory in the first round. Cornet is participating in the final tournament of her storied career and a lot of people expected her to cause a huge upset one last time.

Cornet owns 25 Top 10 wins, spanning multiple generations of players and nearly two decades. Zheng, however, was in no mood to become the 26th. The Australian Open finalist dealt with the occasion coolly to end Cornet's career in 1 hour and 23 minutes.

The Philippe-Chatrier stands greeted Cornet's last dance before even the first point had been played, but it was Zheng who controlled the tempo of the match throughout. The 21-year-old struck 25 winners to 19 unforced errors, successfully using her raw power to keep Cornet at bay.

The Frenchwoman roused local hopes briefly in the first set as she pulled back from 4-0 down to 4-2, and was able to show off her array of defensive spins and angles as she dragged Zheng into some excellent exchanges.

--IANS

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