Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova stunned third seed Aryna Sabalenka in three sets, while Elena Rybakina and Tamara Zidansek both made the second week of a Grand Slam. No.31 seed Pavlyuchenkova overcame No.3 seed Sabalenka 6-4, 2-6, 6-0 to reach the fourth round. She will next face No.15 seed Victoria Azarenka. Now the top three seeds in the women’s section are out of Paris. Earlier Ashleigh Barty retired and Naomi Osaka withdrew from the tournament, thereby No.4 seed Sofia Kenin is the top most seed left in the tournament.
After the match, Pavlyuchenkova revealed that she no longer thinks about her opponents’ rankings. “Sometimes I guess it’s easier – well, not easier, but mentally you maybe have less to lose,” she said. “The better player you are, the more players want to beat you, the more they are fired up against you.
“At this point, I’m not focusing on the rankings any more. Not focusing on anything, on the names, nothing. I just take this particular match, and I want to win this match. That’s it. I have the tactic to play this player. I have a few things how I would like to beat her. That’s it, basically.”
Down 1-3 in the first set, Pavlyuchenkova bounced back brilliantly as she won five of the next six games to seal the set. Sabalenka recovered splendidly to bag the second set with little difficulty. But she was unable to maintain her momentum in the final set. The Russian won the final set without losing a single game.
“I was the first one to laugh at this – players would say, ‘I’m going to go and enjoy out there.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, right. Go enjoy, of course, good luck.’ Now I actually do that. Even today on the court, apart from having pain in my knee and my leg, I was enjoying.
“I’m trying to embrace this. I’m enjoying much more now every point the tough matches than I used to before. I guess that’s also the reason why I’m still here in the second week. Also, I feel like I’m fitter. Because I’m enjoying playing tennis, I work harder. You work hard, you enjoy the hard work. I think that’s the best combination.”
Elsewhere, Rybakina fired 12 aces and struck 26 winners in total to defeat Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-4. Meanwhile, Zidansek overcame a first set whitewash to win 0-6, 7-6, 6-2 over Katerina Siniakova after one hour and 57 minutes.