Aryna Sabalenka Rolls Past Shelby Rogers, Qualifier Downs Ninth Seed Veronika Kudermetova

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Aryna Sabalenka confirmed why she must be taken severely as an Australian Open contender Thursday by powering into the third spherical previous a tough opponent in straight units.

The Belarusian swept previous 51st-ranked American Shelby Rogers 6-3, 6-1 in an hour and 27 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

The pair had clashed twice beforehand, each final yr, with Sabalenka edging every — the latest a three-set, 2hr 35min epic on laborious courts in Cincinnati.

“She’s such an excellent participant, at all times robust matches in opposition to her,” said fifth seed Sabalenka.

“I expected a great level from her. That’s why I said to myself to stay focused from the beginning to the end and probably that’s why I was able to win this one in two sets.”

There was little between the pair once more in a 54-minute opening set on Thursday with solely a pivotal eighth recreation separating them.

It went to 5 deuces on Shelby’s serve earlier than a rasping crosscourt forehand and a scream of “Come on!” from Sabalenka introduced up a 3rd break level.

She converted for a 5-3 lead and served out the set to love.

Sabalenka kept up the pressure on Shelby’s serve at the start of the second set, breaking for a 2-1 lead.

The Belarusian was now on a confident roll, peppering Shelby with winners off both wings as she broke twice more before ripping home a backhand crosscourt pass on her first match point.

Sabalenka, who reached the semi-finals at the US Open last year, extended her 2023 unbeaten record to six matches after winning the recent Adelaide International without dropping a set.

She is aiming to get past the last 16 in the Australian Open for the first time and will next play another American Lauren Davis or the 26th seed from Belgium Elise Mertens.

“I’ve played a lot of matches against Mertens, and I always had battles against Davis,” stated Sabalenka. “It’s going to be robust however I’m wanting ahead to it.”

Katie Volynets Wins

American qualifier Katie Volynets said Thursday she had “chills” after sending world quantity 9 Veronika Kudermetova tumbling out of the Australian Open to win consecutive Tour-level matches for the primary time in her profession.

The Russian, who had a shocking 2022 through which she claimed nearly 40 match wins, was outgunned by the bubbly 21-year-old 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 on Margaret Court Arena to make the third spherical.

Kudermetova, contesting her first main as a top-10 participant, had reached the quarter-finals or higher at her previous 5 tournaments.

She got here into the Australian Open with a left hip niggle which noticed her pull out of her Adelaide International semi-final this month, however was merely not adequate in opposition to Volynets.

“It provides me chills, as a result of the followers listed here are simply unbelievable,” said Volynets, ranked 113 and facing a top-10 player for the first time.

“I’ve never played in a stadium this packed with so many people keeping up my energy. That’s awesome.”

Kudermetova was damaged 5 instances and made 47 unforced errors to Volynets’ 28, with the American crediting new coach Henner Nehles for making an enormous distinction to her recreation.

“All credit score goes to my crew. I’ve by no means felt this excited to work with a coach earlier than. We have the massive image in thoughts and it excites me a lot,” she said.

“Really cool to see just a few months of work with Henner is really benefiting my game and my identity as a person.”

She will try to maintain her run going subsequent in opposition to both China’s Zhang Shuai or Croat Petra Martic.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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