Sabalenka beaten at French Open to open door for Serena
Sabalenka joins top seed Ashleigh Barty and second-seeded Naomi Osaka in exiting the tournament in the first week
Third seed Aryna Sabalenka was dumped out of the French Open in the third round on Friday by Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, leaving Serena Williams as the highest-ranked player left in her half of the draw.
Russian 31st seed Pavlyuchenkova won 6-4, 2-6, 6-0 and will meet Victoria Azarenka for a place in the quarterfinals.
Sabalenka joins top seed Ashleigh Barty and second-seeded Naomi Osaka in exiting the tournament in the first week.
Williams, chasing a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, tackles Danielle Collins later Friday in her third round tie.
Sabalenka had defeated 29-year-old Pavlyuchenkova just a month ago in the Madrid quarterfinals on clay.
However, on Friday she was undone by 39 unforced errors as her poor record at the majors continued. Sabalenka is yet to make a quarterfinal at the Slams.
The women’s competition this year has seen 2019 champion Barty retire injured in the second round.
Reigning US and Australian Open champion Osaka withdrew after the first round having been fined and threatened with expulsion for refusing to honour media commitments.
Simona Halep, the world number three and 2018 champion, didn’t even make it to Paris after suffering a calf injury.
Pavlyuchenkova was a quarterfinalist in Paris in 2011 while her win on Friday was her 37th over a top 10 player.
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