'Utterly horrible': Aryna Sabalenka loss sparks French Open chaos

·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
Third seed Aryna Sabalenka (pictured left) kicking her racquet and (pictured right) frustrated.
Third seed Aryna Sabalenka (pictured) crashed out of the French Open. (Getty Images)

Third seed Aryna Sabalenka has crashed out of the French Open to leave the bottom half of the women's draw wide open.

Following World No.1 Ash Barty and World No.2 Naomi Osaka's withdrawals, Sabalenka was tipped to go deep into the tournament.

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But the Belarusian stumbled in the Third Round after a 4-6, 6-2, 0-6 loss to 31st seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Sabalenka was the highest seed remaining in Paris but she failed to keep a leash on her unforced errors to lose to the experienced 29-year-old Russian.

Sabalenka got off to a rollicking start for a 3-0 lead but her unforced errors abruptly mounted and Pavlyuchenkova won six of the next seven games to bag the set.

The 23-year-old hammered a flurry of winners to take four games in a row to win the second set and level the match before Pavlyuchenkova went off the court for medical attention, returning with her left thigh heavily strapped.

The injury seemed to have made no difference to Pavlyuchenkova's game as she handed a bagel to her opponent in the decider to set up a meeting against Victoria Azarenka.

Fans were stunned at the 'unbelievable' chaos unfolding on the bottom half of the women's draw.

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Sabalenka's loss means Iga Swiatek will remain strong favourite to lift her second French Open title in as many years.

Serena Williams is now the only World Top 10 player in the bottom half of the draw.

Azarenka marches on

Former world No.1 Azarenka reached the fourth round of the French Open for the first time since 2013 with a 6-2, 6-2 victory against American Madison Keys.

The Belarusian, who reached a career-best semi-final at Roland Garros eight years ago, was a doubt for the claycourt Grand Slam after withdrawing from the Madrid Open last month with back pain, but she has been solid so far.

"Right from the beginning I knew there would be a lot of intensity, heavy balls. I tried to be solid and put pressure on her so she cannot dictate the points," the 15th seed said in a courtside interview.

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