TRAGIC: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova Bagels No. 3 Seed Aryna Sabalenka, Opens Up Serena Williams’ Draw at French Open 2021

Published 06/04/2021, 6:52 AM EDT
Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 4, 2021 Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka during her third round match against Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova REUTERS/Christian Hartmann


Third seed Aryna Sabalenka was bageled by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the third round of French Open 2021. Now, Roland Garros 2021 has seen the top three seeds depart before the fourth round stage, and Sabalenka has yet again failed to go past the fourth round at any Grand Slam. This further opens up the draw for seventh seed Serena Williams as well.

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Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova stuns Aryna Sabalenka at French Open 2021

Sabalenka is a fierce hitter from the baseline. But she was a bit over-eager at the start of the match and had to save two break points early on. However, her winners were flowing as well, and she broke Pavlyuchenkova early on to lead 2-0. That lead was stretched to 3-0.

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Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in action during her third round match against Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

However, in the next seven games, Pavlyuchenkova hit just four unforced errors to forge a great comeback. Pavlyuchenkova even saved three break points and broke Sabalenka twice to eventually serve for the set at 5-4. She then comfortably held her serve to win the set, 6-4. In the last seven games of the set, Pavlyuchenkova won six games.

Aryna Sabalenka fought back

Sabalenka’s unforced error count was very high in the first set. However, in the second set, things changed. Sabalenka put her frustration behind to stretch the rallies. There were shorter rallies until 2-2, as both the players were neck and neck. But Sabalenka soon struck and broke Pavlyuchenkova at 3-2. Sabalenka’s returns were very good, as Pavlyuchenkova was not moving well.

Pavlyuchenkova seemed to have some concerns with her left hamstring. There were double faults and no real challenge from the Russian for the set. Sabalenka raced to a 6-2 win in the second set. Pavlyuchenkova then took a medical timeout and came out with her hamstring heavily strapped.

Pavlyuchenkova dominates the 3rd seed

Since Pavlyuchenkova’s injury was uncertain, Sabalenka was the favorite. However, the first service game saw two double faults. Sabalenka’s shoulder dropped, and Pavlyuchenkova broke Sabalenka to lead 1-0.

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Aryna Sabalenka reacts during her third-round match against Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

As the set went on, Sabalenka’s challenge faded. Pavlyuchenkova soon stretched her lead to 3-0 with a double break as Sabalenka banged her racquet on the court.

Sabalenka was getting anxious and hit a few thrusting winners but lacked a plan B. She hit 17 unforced errors, and Pavlyuchenkova didn’t have to work a lot as Sabalenka again failed at the early stages of a Grand Slam. Pavlyuchenkova picked up the win – 6-4, 2-6, 6-0.

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Bhavishya Mittal

1090 articles

Bhavishya Mittal is a tennis author for EssentiallySports, who is currently pursuing his Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Manipal University. A former sports editor for The Manipal Journal, Bhavishya has also worked for The New Indian Express. He has a keen eye for many sports but he is a particularly ardent follower of tennis, with a zest to create riveting articles on the ever-evolving sport.

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