Poor display sees Aryna Sabalenka beaten as French Open loses top three seeds
Aryna Sabalenka’s error-strewn exit to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has left the French Open without its top three women’s seeds inside the first week.
World number one Ashleigh Barty was forced to retire through injury during her second-round match, which followed the much-publicised withdrawal of Naomi Osaka.
Sabalenka has been one of the most in-form players of the last few months and won the biggest title of her career in Madrid last month but she has yet to make a real impression at a grand slam, failing to go beyond the fourth round.
That has clearly become a psychological hurdle and, having fought back from a set down against experienced Russian Pavlyuchenkova, Sabalenka struggled to keep the ball in the court, making 39 unforced errors in total in a 6-4 2-6 6-0 defeat.
Pavlyuchenkova will next take on Victoria Azarenka, who reached the fourth round at Roland Garros for the first time since 2013 with an impressive 6-2 6-2 victory over Madison Keys.
Elena Rybakina, the 21st seed, ended Elena Vesnina’s comeback grand slam with a 6-1 6-4 victory. Vesnina was playing her first major since giving birth to her daughter in 2018.
Slovenian Tamara Zidansek is through to the last 16 at a slam for the first time after a rollercoaster 0-6 7-6 (5) 6-2 victory over Katerina Siniakova.