Aryna Sabalenka beats best friend Paula Badosa in straight sets at French Open

Aryna Sabalenka beat her best friend Paula Badosa to reach the fourth round of the French Open.

Second seed Sabalenka edged a tight first set against the former world number two, and then ran away with the second to win 7-5 6-1.

The pair embraced warmly at the net, and Sabalenka said: “It’s tough to play your best friend.”

Aryna Sabalenka celebrates her victory
Aryna Sabalenka celebrates her victory (Christophe Ena/AP)

Spaniard Badosa clinched the first break early in the opening set courtesy of an outrageous net cord which bounced twice on the top of the net before flopping into Sabalenka’s side of the court.

But Sabalenka cranked up the power and punished a couple of Badosa second serves to haul herself level.

Further breaks were exchanged until 6-5, where suddenly holding serve held the key and Sabalenka managed to do so to take the first set.

The second set did not match the first as Sabalenka raced into a 4-0 lead before wrapping up the victory in an hour and 17 minutes.

Badosa, who slipped out of the top 100 due to chronic injury problems, will now turn her attentions to the mixed doubles with boyfriend Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Sabalenka added: “She is an incredible player coming back after injury. I’m pretty sure she is going to be back on top very soon.

“We are good at separating things. On court we are opponents and I try not to watch in the other side and just trying to focus on myself and bring my best game. It is always tough matches against her.”

Sabalenka was joined in the second week by former Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, seeded fourth, who beat Belgium’s Elise Mertens 6-4 6-2.

Rybakina had to pull out of her third-round match at Roland Garros last year through illness, and also withdrew from the Italian Open last month.

When pressed, the 24-year-old did not exactly confirm a clean bill of health.

“I’ve been struggling a bit with sleep, some issues,” she said. “So, of course, I had to skip tournaments. Also allergies and everything. Now I’m feeling pretty well and focused.”

World number 88 Varvara Gracheva kept French hopes alive by beating Irina-Camelia Begu in straight sets, while rain once again disrupted play on the outside courts.