Wimbledon 2023: Aryna Sabalenka avoids upset to beat Varvara Gracheva; Petra Kvitova advances
Aryna Sabalenka, who was the second seed, came back to beat Varvara Gracheva of France and move on to the third round of Wimbledon.
The Belarusian, who was one of the event favorites, had a hard time at first against the world number 41 on Court One, which was very hot.
She made five double errors in the first set, but she pulled herself together and won the next three sets, 2-6, 7-5, and 6-2.
Iga Swiatek, who is number one in the world, and Ons Jabeur, who was second last year, both play later on Friday.
Sabalenka, who won the Australian Open, looked out of sorts in her first few points against Gracheva. She made 16 unforced mistakes and lost her serve three times.
She seemed to be bothered by the sun beating down on the SW19 grass, and at each change of ends, she used bags of ice to cool down.
After making eight unforced mistakes in a row and missing three break points, which gave the first set to Gracheva, it was no surprise that Sabalenka left the court to regroup.
She kept the second set on serve until she had a chance to return Gracheva’s serve but missed it by a long shot. She let out a guttural scream of anger.
She didn’t have to wait long, though, and started hitting Gracheva, who switched from Russia to France in June, with powerful forehands to tie the match at 1-1.
With a double-break in the third set, the number two player in the world got back to something close to her normal level of play. She won the match with a final roaring ace, setting up a third-round match against the number 40 player in the world, Anna Blinkova.
On day five, what else has happened?
Petra Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, easily beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2, 6-2 to move on to the third round of this year’s event.
On a very hot morning, it only took the ninth-seeded Czech, who won the grass-court title in Berlin before the Championships, 74 minutes to win.
Even though they both got breaks early on, Sasnovich fought and made a lot of mistakes before Kvitova, who is 33, quickly won the second set.
Also, former world No. 2 Paula Badosa had to quit her second-round match against Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk because of a back problem that had kept her from playing in the French Open.
After an awkward exchange with a reporter at her press conference, the Spaniard said later that she and her partner Stefanos Tsitsipas would not play in the mixed doubles.
Madison Keys, the 25th seed from the United States, also moved on after beating Swiss player Viktorija Golubic 7-5, 6-3.