Tennis

Aryna Sabalenka beats Elise Mertens at Australian Open

Aryna Sabalenka beats Elise Mertens at Australian Open
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MELBOURNE, Australia — Fifth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka extended her win streak to seven matches as she beat Elise Mertens 6-2, 6-3 to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open on Saturday.

The Belarusian player hit 32 winners to beat Mertens, with whom she won the doubles title in Melbourne in 2021.

« It’s really tough to play against her, she’s a great player and is always fighting, » Sabalenka said.

Sabalenka will now play Belinda Bencic after the Swiss player reached the fourth round for the first time since 2016, beating Camila Giorgi 6-2, 7-5 on Rod Laver Arena. The 12th-seeded Bencic was broken when serving for the match at 5-4 but she broke serve in the following game and then served out to love for victory.

« I’m really happy I got a second chance to serve it out, » she said. « But overall I think it was a great match. [At 6-5] I just tried to relax. My coach [Dmitri Tursunov] was showing me relax [signals]. »

Bencic won the warm-up event in Adelaide before the Australian Open and has won eight matches in a row.

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Former top-ranked Karolina Pliskova also reached the last 16 with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Varvara Gracheva. Pliskova, who last made the second week in Melbourne in 2019, did not face a break point.

« My serve, it can be a really good weapon, » she said. « I’m not doing as much running from the baseline. »

Pliskova next plays Shuai Zhang, who ended the run of American qualifier Katie Volynets 6-3, 6-2.

Donna Vekic advanced to the fourth round for the second time in three years with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Nuria Parrizas Diaz of Spain.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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