Aryna Sabalenka rolls to 6-0, 6-0 win in Australia

League: Tennis

Posted on: 19 Jan, 2024 at 06:39 AM

Credit: Mike Frey-USA TODAY Sports

Reigning champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus had a quick day's work at the Australian Open on Friday, thrashing 28th-seeded Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine 6-0, 6-0 in third-round action.

Fourth-seeded Coco Gauff was almost as efficient, defeating Alycia Parks 6-0, 6-2 in an all-U.S. matchup.

Sabalenka, who is seeded second, needed only 53 minutes to advance.

"I'm just super happy with the level I'm playing so far, and hopefully I can just keep going like that or even better," Sabalenka said.

The 25-year-old won 76 percent of her first-serve points, had a 16-7 edge in winners and committed only nine unforced errors to 15 from Tsurenko.

Sabalenka got to the semifinals of all four majors last year, and she reached the final at the U.S. Open in addition to prevailing in Australia. She was asked who would win, Aryna 2023 or Aryna 2024.

"Obviously, Aryna 2024 I think," she said, to thunderous applause from the Melbourne crowd.

Next up for Sabalenka is a matchup against Amanda Anisimova. The 22-year-old New Jersey native continued her comeback by fighting through physical problems en route to a 7-5, 6-4 third-round win over Spaniard Paula Badosa.

The pair produced an entertaining, 57-minute first set, after which Anisimova took a medical timeout.

She recovered well and rode a service break for a 4-3 lead in the second set to help cement the victory over Badosa, a former world No. 2 player.

Anisimova is back in action after taking a hiatus last year to focus on her mental health.

"It's quite unbelievable after taking some time off," Anisimova said postmatch. "I'm really feeling good.

"I think the most important thing is I'm just enjoying my time out here and I'm just really happy to be playing here and into the next round."

The first-set health issues -- Anisimova cited abdominal pain -- returned late in the match and posed an additional challenge.

She looked more exhausted than happy after a Badosa forehand found the net, securing the victory.

"My stomach was starting to hurt in that last game again," she said, "and I was really relieved that it was over and I could finally take a breath."

Anisimova had a staggering 40 winners in the match to just 18 for Badosa.

Anisimova, who reached the French Open semifinals in 2019, took a mental health break from tennis and didn't play at all from May through the end of last year.

Just months after the 2019 French Open semifinals appearance, her father died of a heart attack.

Anisimova grieved, found setbacks during the pandemic but worked her way back, making the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2022.

She sustained a foot injury later in the year and never found her form.

The long comeback began in Auckland, New Zealand, as she began 2024 with a ranking of 373.

Sabalenka said the upcoming match against Anisimova, "I'm happy to see her back in tennis ... and am looking forward to a great fight."

Gauff, a 19-year-old Florida native, never faced a break point and converted all five of her break opportunities against Parks. Keeping the ball in play was a sound strategy for Gauff, as Parks committed 34 unforced errors to Gauff's eight.

"I'm really happy with how I played today," Gauff said. "The scoreline says different, but she's a tough player. She hits the ball big, and I've known her since I was like 9 or 8 years old, probably even younger than that.

"This was our first time ever playing, juniors or pro, but hopefully we can have many more matches in the future."

--Field Level Media