2021 French Open, Friday R3 Highlights: Pavs upsets Sabalenka, Badosa-Bogdan was brilliant!

A fresh new day at Roland Garros and a lot of highlights! Another contender departed the tournament and the day ended with a tremendous match out on the Simonne Mathieu Court. Read on for Friday’s diary from Paris where the focus was on the third rounders from the bottom half of the draw. Looking forward to Saturday’s order of play and having a clear day to watch it all. 

Day 6️⃣ Highlights

(31) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova d. (3) Aryna Sabalenka, 6-4 2-6 6-0

Another top seed bites the dust… step forward, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, a well known top 10 slayer who recorded the 36th (!) top ten win of her career to oust one of the favourites, Aryna Sabalenka. I only caught the third set which was rather brief. Pavs returned from a medical time-out between the second and third sets for a upper leg/back/hip injury and was rather inspired. It was a bit of a car-crash from Sabalenka who had openings in two of Pavs’s service games but gave away cheap errors on return when presented with second serves. Sabalenka landed only 38% of first serves in play in the decider.

I really feel for Sabalenka. She’s going to keep getting all those “well you haven’t made a Slam QF” questions and it must be really hard to deal with. While I did have Sabalenka winning this match and I thought she’d break new ground in making the quarters, I did have my doubts about her being one of the favourites because Stuttgart and Madrid, where she thrived, are very different conditions to the clay in Paris.

Tough loss but I still believe Sabalenka will have a deep run at one of the two remaining Slams this year. Lovely to see Pavs pick up where she left off from in Madrid. I remember vividly her run to the quarters in Paris in 2013 and an absolute rollercoaster match with Schiavone. Would be uplifting to see Pavs go deeper in this draw.

(15) Victoria Azarenka d. (23) Madison Keys, 6-2 6-2

Both players were in a good mood at the coin toss and both started in fine form in what was a high-quality start to this match. From 2-2 in the first set, it was completely one-way traffic as Azarenka delivered a rock-solid display to reach the second week of the French Open for the first time since 2013.

Once again, Azarenka demonstrated why she is one of the best returners on tour. Keys won just 37% of points behind her second serve. Azarenka’s serve, which is liable to break down, held up for the entirety. The error count for Keys was obviously an issue. I think a lot of those were forced by Azarenka who locked into relentless mode. Azarenka forced Keys to go for more. There was a scattering of great points from Keys where she built the points patiently before firing away winners. They were few and far between though with the backhand all too often faltering.

Really didn’t expect this from Vika having played so few matches on clay. A pleasant surprise!

(7) Serena Williams d. Danielle Collins, 6-4 6-4

Much like Vika, Serena has suddenly become one to watch in this wide open bottom half. This was a supremely clutch display to beat a very dangerous opponent in Danielle Collins. Serena was down *0-30 in both sets when trying to close out the sets. Both times, Serena reeled off four straight points. Serena rallied from 1-4 down in the second set to win the last five games.

As expected, it was a high-quality, intense match. Both went after each other’s second serves and the difference really was that Serena landed a higher percentage of first serves in play (59% to 47%). I hope that Collins can stay healthy and get her ranking a bit higher to where it belongs because she should be seeded at the Slams IMO.

(33) Paula Badosa d. Ana Bogdan, 2-6 7-6(4) 6-4

The best matches are sometimes the ones where you least expect it. I think this was arguably the match of the tournament so far! A brilliant, brilliant match with rallies to die for. I found myself being puzzled at how Bogdan is ranked just 102 in the world because she played so, so well. Badosa saved a match point in the sensational second set and hit some fantastic forehands with her back against the wall as she barely held on at the end.

A fine win for Badosa who had emerged as one of the favourites to win the tournament. That is a lot to handle for a player who suddenly springboarded into contention during this clay court season. Badosa extends her winning streak to eight and surely adds to her belt of confidence. Saving match points and winning is a big deal!

Best of the rest 🎾

Prior to this French Open, Tamara Zidansek had never won a main draw match at the French Open. Now she’s got three of them! Zidansek posted her best ever result at a Slam, rallying from a set and a break down to beat Katerina Siniakova, 0-6 7-6(5) 6-2.

Another player breaking new ground at a Slam is Elena Rybakina. The 21-year-old Kazakh is into the second week of a Slam for the first time after a 6-1 6-4 win over Elena Vesnina.

Sorana Cirstea‘s wonderful run on clay this year continued as she eased past Daria Kasatkina, 6-3 6-2, to reach the second week of the French Open for the first time since her 2009 break-out run!

Marketa Vondrousova had won just one match on clay heading into this year’s French Open. Now she’s back into the last 16 of the French Open after beating Polona Hercog, 6-3 6-3.

H&H 🤗


Favourite snap 📸

A Serena roar in shots.

Recommended media 📺

There were a few mentions of Timea in the comments recently – here’s an update!

Day 7 watchlist 📺

(13) Jen Brady vs. (24) Coco Gauff

(18) Karolina Muchova vs. Sloane Stephens

(5) Elina Svitolina vs. Barbora Krejcikova

(14) Elise Mertens vs. (17) Maria Sakkari

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8 thoughts on “2021 French Open, Friday R3 Highlights: Pavs upsets Sabalenka, Badosa-Bogdan was brilliant!

  1. I only managed to watch Rybakina v Vesnina and Serena v Collins.

    In the first set against Vesnina, Rybakina played the highest level I’ve seen from any player on the women’s side this far in the tournament. Vesnina really didn’t play badly – that she got on the board was a testament to her fighting and being positive. Rybakina hit 11 winners, 2 unforced errors and only lost ONE point on serve. She went up a break in the second and then had a bit of a concentration lapse. But she did manage to get it back on track and finish how she started. Very encouraging from her!

    Serena and Collins wasn’t quite what I expected. I felt like Danielle was far less intense than usual. Probably because she clearly has a lot of respect for Serena? But from Serena is was very very good, bad the slight dip in the second set. The serve and movement in particular were exceptional.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nice to see Rybakina having a run after a pretty dire year up till now. I was surprised Collins let that second set lead slip. Remarkable really that she made it to the third round having had surgery in April.


      • Yeah I’m really disappointed that Rybakina plays Serena next. If it was against anybody else, I’d be rooting for her to make her first deep run. But I would just love to see what Serena can do if she makes it to the last four.

        Also interesting to see that Vondrousova has found her game again? I have to say, she was very impressive against Han in the second round. But I still think she could be much more aggressive with her serve and forehand than she is.


  2. Tough luck on Aryna Sabalenka who so far doesn’t seem to be able to play her best tennis in slams, bt good to see Pavs doing well; she’s made the quarterfinals in all four slams without ever going further. Maybe this time she will?

    According to Wikipedia, she’s not been out of the top 50 since 2008, which is a remarkable level of consistency in an era when players can slip down the rankings very quickly oif they hit a bad patch.

    Sorana Cirstea’s having a good run too; it’s good to see someone who’s been out the game so long with an injury (shoulder I believe) come back and start doing well.

    Must admit the mention of Timea struck me funny though; they managed to spell her surname (the difficult part of her name) right, and then misspelt “Timea”. From the above, it looks like she’s undecided about whether to return to playing or to get a coaching qualification.


    • I’ve always had a soft spot for Cirstea, so I’m thrilled to see her in the fourth round. I remember when she made the quarters here as a teenager!


    • I’d love to see Pavs finally make a Slam SF but she may have to go through Vika and Serena to do it. I noticed they spelt Timea wrong too! It’s nice to hear an update. She was my fave behind Lucie a few years ago. Love her backhand!


  3. Vika & Pav 😍😍😍 I don’t think I can sleep with excitement! Would rather see Vika go through for the simple fact that Serena V Vika is one of my favourite rivalries! Not even overly keen on watching Serena generally but they both usually bring it! Would also be happy for Pav to go through! 🙂
    It’s been a looooong while since I’ve been on here, so hi again!

    Liked by 1 person

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