French Open: Sabalenka, Rybakina reach quarters

Aryna Sabalenka continued her bid for back-to-back majors as the world No. 2 stormed into the last eight after a straight-set victory over American fourth-round

debutant Emma Navarro in Paris on Monday.

Aryna Sabalenka (R) greets Emma Navarro after the women's singles round of 16 match between Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and Emma Navarro of the United States at the French tennis tournament in Paris, France, June 3, 2024. (Xinhua/Gao Jing)

The Belarusian needed one hour and nine minutes to book her second Roland Garros quarterfinals spot with a 6-2, 6-3 win over the No. 22 seed.

"I played a really tough battle against her at Indian Wells. It was a really tough match, and I was going here today ready to fight for every point. I was ready for long rallies. I knew that I had to work hard for this win, so I'm super happy with the level I played today," said Sabalenka, who had lost to Navarro in a three-setter in March in their only previous head-to-head clash.

The two-time Australian Open champion fired 36 winners against 15 from her opponent and committed only 14 unforced errors compared to Navarro's 23.

"Definitely, with the sun, you feel more positive. It's been tough the last how many days with the rain, and now, playing with the roof open and people can enjoy watching tennis in beautiful conditions. The only difference was it was a little bit windy, but I was just focusing on myself, and I was just trying to do my best each point," Sabalenka said about the rainy first week.

The 26-year-old dominated the match, claiming 85 percent of first-serve points and pummelling her opponent's second serve, winning 14 of 17 points. She did not face a break point throughout.

Next for Sabalenka is either local favorite Varvara Gracheva or Russia's Mirra Andreeva.

Another title contender, Elena Rybakina, also progressed with a straight-set victory as the No.4 seed overcame 15th-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 6-4, 6-3.

The 2022 Wimbledon champion will next play Italy's 12th-seed Jasmine Paolini in the quarterfinals.

"Really happy with the performance. Elina, she's a tough opponent, she's a great fighter, and it's always difficult matches against her, but I'm really happy with the way I played and the way I served," said Rybakina.

A four-time quarterfinalist in Paris, Svitolina probed her adversary to the best of her ability, keeping Rybakina in touch and even earning a break point chance to climb level at 4-4 in the opening set.

That opportunity was quickly erased by Rybakina, who won three consecutive points and closed the game for 5-3 with her second ace.

A second ace by Svitolina kept her within a break at 5-4, but the world No. 4 stayed on the attack, converting her first set point in the next game and closing the set with 13 winners and 16 unforced errors.

"It was really tough for me today," Svitolina said afterwards. "I feel like I was not so far from leveling up in the first set, but yeah, she played well."

Rybakina broke Svitolina's serve quickly to open the second set and never looked back, powering into her second quarterfinals on the clay major after a 69-minute battle.