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French Open Day 9: Rybakina and Sabalenka power through as De Minaur rallies past Medvedev

Alex de Minaur booked his first visit to a Roland Garros quarter-final seeing off Daniil Medvedev in four sets 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-3.

The 11th seed is the first Australian to reach this stage at Roland Garros since Lleyton Hewitt in 2004.

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Typically resolute, de Minaur chased down every ball, capitalising clinically on anything the Russian dropped short.

Despite seemingly finding his groove on clay in the early rounds, Medvedev struggled to source a way through in the latter stages.

The fifth seed started solidly, breaking the Australian’s serve in the third game, going on to clinch the opening set.

De Minaur earned his first break of the match midway through the second before Medvedev called a medical time-out at the changeover and received treatment for blisters on his right foot – something the camera showed us incredibly vividly.

Immediately his level dropped and the Australian grabbed hold of the match winning the second and third in quick succession.

A double fault from the Russian’s racket gifted de Minaur the win and made Medvedev the highest seed to fall so far in Paris.

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The two towering Eastern Europeans were brutal in their straight sets victories, with Aryna Sabalenka avenging American Emma Navarro, and Elena Rybakina waltzing past Elina Svitolina.

Sabalenka looked in astounding form underneath the Parisian sun, bulldozing past Navarro 6-2, 6-3. Occasionally you wonder just how anyone has ever beaten the Belarusian as she hit 36 winners including seven aces.

The American got the better of Sabalenka on home soil at Indian Wells in March, but did not get the chance to exhibit any of her flair today. The Belarusian’s frightening ball-striking saw her take a leaf out of Iga Swaitek’s book as she spent just 69 minutes on court.

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Sabalenka is still yet to drop a set in grand slams since the start of her triumphant run at the Australian Open.

“I played a really tough battle against her at Indian Wells. It was a really tough match and I came here today ready to fight for every point. I was ready for long rallies; I knew I would have to work really hard to get this win. 

“I’m super happy with the level I played at today. She’s such a tough opponent and happy to get through this tough match.”

Sabalenka faces 17-year-old Mirra Andreeva in the quarter-finals, with the young Russian battling past France’s Varvara Gracheva in an entertaining straight sets win on Suzanne Lenglen.

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It was an almost identical story earlier in the day with Rybakina blowing Ukrainian Elina Svitolina in 69 minutes, hitting 26 winners and five aces for a 6-4, 6-3 win.

The Kazakh fourth seed is also yet to drop a set here in Paris with crafty Italian Jasmine Paolini standing in her way of a spot in the semi-final after her comeback win against Elina Avanesyan. 

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Despite the tidy run-out so far, the former Wimbledon Champion does not look the complete player she normally is, unable to find real consistency over the past nine days, hitting 23 unforced errors today. 

With Paolini susceptible to the big-hitters, it may well only be until the last four where Rybakina’s best tennis is forced out of her.

Author

  • Sam France

    Sam France is an avid tennis watcher and player, frequently found passionately raving about the WTA. A journalist with a passion for all things sport, culture, and politics, Sam is a committed Radio 4 listener. A big WSL fan, Sam is still searching for a Guro Reiten autograph. @SamFrance28