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By Richard Pagliaro | @TennisNow | Saturday, June 1, 2024


Aryna Sabalenka streaked through 10 of the last 11 games sweeping buddy Paula Badosa 7-5, 6-1 for her 10th straight Slam match win.

Photo credit: Tim Clayton/Corbis/Getty

Best friends Aryna Sabalenka and Paula Badosa stood shoulder-to-shoulder ahead of their seventh showdown at Roland Garros today.

Facing friendly, Sabalenka was down 3-5 in the opening set while looking a a little lost on second serve.

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Finding her range and rhythm, Sabalenka crushed her confidante with a rousing eight-game surge sparking a 7-5, 6-1 sweep to reach the Roland Garros fourth round for the second time.

Streaking through 10 of the final 11 games today, Sabalenka has surrendered just 13 games in three tournament wins. The Belarusian power player delivered some of her most dynamic tennis of the tournament—and deployed her variety—-during her dominant close to this match.

Sabalenka scored her fourth clay-court win over her buddy Badosa in as many meetings to raise her record to 28-7, including 14-3 on clay, in 2024.

It is Sabalenka’s 10th straight Grand Slam victory of the season as she continues her quest to become the first woman since Serena Williams in 2015 to win the Australian Open and Roland Garros back-to-back.

"It's tough to play your best friend," Sabalenka said in her on-court interview. "She's an incredible player coming back from an injury [fracture in back]. I'm pretty sure she's going to be back in top very soon. It's very tough, but as I said before, we're good to separate things.

"It's tough matches against her."

The second-seeded Sabalenka will face an American in the fourth round—either 14th-seeded Madison Keys or 22nd-seeded Emma Navarro—as she plays for a spot in her seventh straight Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Elevating her play as this match progressed, Sabalenka slammed 28 winners against 19 unforced errors, while Badosa hit 15 winners and 22 errors.

Digging in with defiance, Badosa fended off four break points holding for 2-1. By then, the Spaniard had saved five break points in all.

Former world No. 2 Badosa was challenging the second-ranked Sabalenka’s forehand. When a Badosa drive crashed into net and plopped over, the Spaniard scored the break for 4-2.

A drop shot winner and heavy forehand strike down the line helped Sabalenka convert her ninth break point to break back in the seventh game.

Undeterred, the 2021 Indian Wells champion cranked a forehand return down the line then rattled a framed mis-hit from Sabalenka scoring her third break for 5-3.

Though Badosa served for the set, Sabalenka broke right back blasting a forehand down the line to take the ninth game.

Two games later, Badosa was moving forward inside the service line when she slapped a forehand swing volley into net to fall into a love-30 hole. Sabalenka scored her fourth break of the day for 6-5.

The two-time Australian Open champion served out the 50-minute opener at love, winning her fourth consecutive game. Sabalenka doubled her friend’s winner total—18 to 9—in the set and converted four of 12 break points.

At that point it felt like Badosa’s moment had passed, while a strengthened Sabalenka was just getting going.

Stepping into the court, Sabalenka was slamming heavy drives as she broke to start the second set.

The 2023 Roland Garros semifinalist backed up the break for her sixth straight game and a 2-0 lead.

Slashing successive biting forehand returns, Sabalenka broke at love for 3-0.

Mired in an eight-game free-fall, Badosa banged the first ace of the day to get back on the board at 1-4.

Carving a clever forehand drop shot for a fourth match point, Sabalenka closed a convincing win in 77 minutes.


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