Aryna Sabalenka won’t get carried away by reaching second week at Wimbledon

Aryna Sabalenka won’t get carried away by reaching second week at Wimbledon

Aryna Sabalenka acknowledged there would only be a “little celebration” for making the second week at Wimbledon this time with her eyes firmly set on another grand slam title.

Australian Open champion Sabalenka marched into the fourth round at the All England Club on Saturday with a routine 6-2 6-3 victory over Moscow-born Anna Blinkova, hitting 30 winners in an 81-minute breeze on Court One.

Second seed Sabalenka is at the top of her game having made it to at least the semi-final stage of her last three grand slams, but it was at Wimbledon two summers ago where she made her big breakthrough at a major.

Aryna Sabalenka celebrates beating Anna Blinkova
Aryna Sabalenka celebrates beating Anna Blinkova (Victoria Jones/PA)

A run to the last four for the current world number two in 2021 was the first time she made the second week at a grand slam and the Belarusian has not looked back since and is focused on lasting the distance on grass this time.

“Yeah, I have really great memories from here. It was my first breakthrough,” Sabalenka said, having missed last year’s tournament due to the ban on Russian and Belarusian players competing due to the war in Ukraine.

“I was very happy two years ago to be able to get to the second week. Yeah, since that I kind of had more belief in myself in the grand slams.

“I don’t think anymore about the second week of the grand slam, you know? I kind of felt a little relief after that breakthrough.

“I’m still happy. It’s still a little celebration because of making the second week, but the goal is to go as far as I can. I’m trying to stay focused.”

Back-to-back aces booked Sabalenka her place in the last-16, after surviving an entertaining 14-minute seventh game of the second set to hold.

The 25-year-old will face another Russian next after Ekaterina Alexandrova, the 21st seed, was the first female winner on day six with a 6-0 6-4 victory over Dalma Galfi on Court 18.

Last year’s Wimbledon runner-up Ons Jabeur survived a scare and a lengthy stoppage due to a wet Centre Court surface to progress into the fourth round with a battling 3-6 6-3 6-4 win over Bianca Andreescu.

Ons Jabeur celebrates her battling victory on Centre Court
Ons Jabeur celebrates her battling victory on Centre Court (Adam Davy/PA)

After Jabeur hit back from losing the first set to level, the Tunisian found herself 3-1 down in the decider, but crucially broke back against the former US Open winner before heavy rain arrived at 7.36pm.

With the Centre Court roof open, the grass surface briefly took a hammering of rain and a 50-minute delay occurred while it was left to dry.

But once play resumed, Jabeur showed her mettle on her first return to the venue since last year’s final.

Two break points were held by the world number six in her first service game after the resumption before she broke to love in the ninth game and sealed her place in round four with an ace.

“I felt like I didn’t play my best today, I wanted to be more aggressive and play my game but I am playing against a grand slam champion,” Jabeur said before admitting to almost asking spectator Billie Jean King for advice mid-match.

“You have to do what you do and Billie was watching so I was going to ask her what should I do. I swear I was going to turn to her.

“Very emotional coming back here after a great final last year. It is one of, if not my favourite court. I love the grass, love the energy and hopefully I can come back and play more matches here.”

The wet weather disrupted some of the early play on Saturday but Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia beat the rain to down Sorana Cirstea 6-2 6-2 on Court Three before a suspension meant there was no time for an on-court interview.

When play did resume in SW19, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova finished the run of qualifier Natalija Stevanovic in straight sets.

Madison Keys, who won the Rothesay International in Eastbourne last week, continued her fine form with a 6-4 6-1 victory over Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk.