Rakhimova 2-6, 0-2 *Sabalenka (*denotes next server)
Sabalenka now brings up two game break points with an utterly sumptuous forehand winner to the corner. Power, precision, timing. Sensational. She overhits another attempted winner at 15-40 … there is a protracted rally on the next break point, Sabalenka defends well, moves around the court brilliantly and forces the error from her opponent. Daylight on the scoreboard in the second, and tough to see how Rakhimova gets back into this.
Sabalenka’s range of shots, power and ability to raise herself for the big points all look to be a class above her opponent. She is, let’s face it, No 2 in the world for good reason.
*Rakhimova 2-6, 0-1 Sabalenka (*denotes next server)
It’s 30-30 on the Sabalenka serve and an important point. Both players unload from the baseline in one of the best rallies of the match so far … Sabalenka smokes a big winner down the line and leaves her opponent flat-footed for 40-30. She rounds off the game with a crunching smash, that looks out-ish, but fine on replay.
Kokkinakis is 4-2 up and remains a break up in the fourth v Khachanov. So a five-setter looks likely. Andy Murray knows all about that.
Sabalenka wins the first set v Rakhimova: 6-2Another double fault arrives early in the latest service game by Rakhimova. Her serve is malfunctioning. And she looks understandably frustrated. If there’s one player who can relate to serving woes, it’s Sabalenka, but the Belarusian is obviously in no mood to display any sympathy just at the moment with a match on the line. It goes to deuce once, but Sabalenka wraps up the first set, peppering her opponent with a few powerful ground strokes on the way.
*Rakhimova 2-5 Sabalenka (*denotes next server)
Sabalenka is in the zone now and she holds to -15. Rakhimova had won six points in a row just a couple of minutes ago … she then slumped to winning one of 11 … in fact one of 12 now, I think. It’s going to take something special for her to get back in contention in this set.
Rakhimova 2-4 *Sabalenka (*denotes next server)
Consecutive double faults hands Sabalenka two break points. She converts the first, or rather, Rakhimova hands her the break by hitting long to go with the double faults. Rakhimova swats at a ball in sheer annoyance. Which is quite understandable.
Khachanov 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 1-3 Kokkinakis is the score in that third-round match.
Khachanov v Kokkinakis is 3-1 in the fourth. The Aussie is a break up, while Khachanov leads by two sets to one. Potential for an epic just like Kokkinakis playeds against Murray back in January.
*Rakhimova 2-3 Sabalenka (*denotes next server)
Rakhimova really is growing into this and moves quickly to 0-30 on the Sabalenka serve. The Belarusian responds, though, grappling back to 30-30 … Rakhimova runs down a drop shot and clips a winner down the line, but she loses the point by running into the net before the ball has bounced twice. Sabalenka seals the hold from 0-30 down, which is impressive. She then forgets that it’s time for a changeover and shares a quick joke with the umpire as a result.
Rakhimova 2-2 *Sabalenka (*denotes next server)
A love hold for the 21-year-old Rakhimova, who was born in Yekaterinburg, Russia. If there was any pre-match tension in her mind and body, it appears to be easing.
These players were welcomed on to Court Philippe Chatrier by the relentless Roland Garros social media team a little earlier.
*Rakhimova 1-2 Sabalenka (*denotes next server)
Rakhimova poses something of a question at 40-30. But Sabalenka shuts down any hope her opponent may have with a display of fearsome power, forcing Rakhimova out of the point and holding for 2-1. Time for a sit down and a drink (for the players – I’m sitting down already.)
Rakhimova 1-1 *Sabalenka (*denotes next server)
Appropriately for what appears to be a mismatch on paper, Rakhimova’s first service game is a more drawn-out affair. But thanks in no small part to a fortunate drop shot, that appeared to be either badly mishit or misjudged or both, Rakhimova is on the board.
*Rakhimova 0-1 Sabalenka (*denotes next server)
Sabalenka drives a deep, wide and accurate serve to begin, and then powers a winner to the opposite side of the court for 15-0. Ominous. She then miscues a bit forehand for 15-15, and Rakhimova hits long on the next rally for 30-15. A thunderous ace brings up two game points and Sabalenka converts the first with little fuss.
Sabalenka won the toss and will serve.
OK, down to some more serious business in the women’s singles. The Australian Open champion, Aryna Sabalenka, is about to begin her third-round match against Kamilla Rakhimova, the world No 82. It’s the first meeting between these two players.
Sabalenka was in the news a few days ago:
Hello all. Luke here. Signal failure on the Hammersmith & City scuppered my best-laid plans but I’m here now. Which is arguably the most important thing.
Kasatkina speaks to Eurosport after that crushing win against Stearns. She’s asked if she’s happy with how the tournament’s going, and she says “So far”, while clonking herself on the side of her head in that traditional ‘touch wood’ gesture. How endearing.
“I’m really happy,” she says. “I showed a good level of tennis, and even more importantly, a good level of focus …
“Winning in straight sets helps a lot in the slams.”
Daria Kasatkina: Victorious. Photograph: Robert Prange/Getty ImagesDaria Kasatkina made extremely quick work of American Patty Stearns earlier, winning 6-0, 6-1 in under an hour. Next up for her, either Anna Blinkova or Elina Svitolina.
Elsewhere, Rublev has taken charge against Sonego, leading 7-5, 4-0, while Kokkinakis is hanging in there in the third set, already two down to Khachanov.
Elise Mertens beats Jessica Pegula 6-1, 6-3!It’s the end of the road for the No 3 seed, who is well beaten by Elise Mertens. The No 28 seed from Belgium is into the fourth round for the third time.
Around the grounds: Let’s catch up with the morning’s play so far. On Philippe-Chatrier, the No 3 seed Jessica Pegula is in trouble, losing the first set 6-1 to Elise Mertens.
On Suzanne-Lenglen, Andrey Rublev has an early break against Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego. On Simonne-Mathieu, Karen Khachanov is cruising towards the fourth round, leading Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4, 6-1.
Bonjour. Ça va? Luke will be here shortly to pick up all the latest action. In the meantime, why not catch up on Thursday’s news and matches?