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French Open: Sabalenka cruises into Round of 16 with win over Rakhimova

No.2 seed Aryna Sabalenka posted a new career-best result at the French Open, defeating Kamilla Rakhimova 6-2, 6-2 to move into the Round of 16 for the first time in her career, here on Friday

Sabalenka, who won her first major title at this year’s Australian Open, needed just 67 minutes to dispatch 82nd-ranked Rakhimova in their first meeting. With the win, Sabalenka improved to 10-0 at this year’s Grand Slam events.

Sabalenka has reached the semifinals or better at each of the other three Grand Slam tournaments, but she had never before made the second week at Roland Garros, falling in the third round in each of the last three years.

That all changed on Court Philippe Chatrier as the World No.2 finally booked a Round of 16 spot at the clay-court major. Sabalenka was never broken on Friday, winning 81 percent of her first-service points and firing six aces.

Rakhimova nearly grabbed an early break point at 2-2 in the first set, but her passing winner was negated after she touched the net at the end of the point. Sabalenka regrouped in that game to hold with a backhand winner, and that kicked off a seven-game winning streak to lead 6-2, 3-0.

Sabalenka misfired on a volley to give Rakhimova her only break point of the day at 4-2 in the second set, but the No.2 seed erased that chance with a second-serve ace. Sabalenka had no trouble powering to victory from there, wrapping up the clash with her fourth service break.

Depending on results throughout the tournament, Sabalenka could still take the World No.1 ranking from Iga Swiatek during this fortnight, which would mark her first appearance at the top of the WTA Tour singles rankings.

Sabalenka’s victory over Rakhimova was her 32nd match-win of the year, which leads all players on tour. Sabalenka is currently two wins ahead of second-place Swiatek and Elena Rybakina, who have each won 30 matches this season.

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