Sabalenka is in eighth place for the third time in a row

World number five Aryna Sabalenka defeated fifth seed Elise Mertens of Belgium 6-2 6-3 in the third round of the Australian Open on Saturday to advance to the last 16 in Melbourne for the third time in a row.

“I’m playing better than last year and maybe that’s why I’m having more fun,” said the 24-year-old Belarusian, who will face Swiss Belinda Bencic (10th) on Monday in an attempt to climb for the first time. In the quarter-finals of the Australian Grand Prix.

Three times Grand Slam semi-finalist (Wimbledon 2021, US Open 2021 and 2022).

Sabalenka has yet to drop a single set not only from the tournament but from the year, which began with a title in Adelaide 1.

“That’s a great statistic, but I don’t care. I’m just trying to do the best I can.”

His next opponent Bencic also remained for a title before the Australian Open, in Adelaide 2.

Bencic, Pliskova and Vekic pass too

Belinda Bencic, ranked 10th in the world, Karolina Pliskova (31st) and Donna Vekic (64th) also qualified for the round of 16 without any problem.

Swiss Bencic beat Italy’s Camila Giorgi (ranked 70) 6-2, 7-5 and returned to the second week of the Australian Major for the first time since 2016 when she failed to qualify for the quarter-finals. She reached the semi-finals at the US Open in 2019.

In the next round, she will face Belarusian Arina Sabalenka (5) or Belgian Elise Mertens (32).

The Czech Pliskova defeated the Russian Varvara Gracheva (97) 6-4, 6-2. Since the semi-finals in Melbourne in 2019, she hasn’t made it past the third round there. But she did play the 2021 Wimbledon final and the quarter-finals at the US Open in 2021 and 2022.

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She will try to reach the quarter-finals by facing Chinese Shuai Zhang (22), who beat American Katie Volents (113th and qualified) 6-3, 6-2.

Croatian Vekic defeated Spaniard Nuria Parisas (75) 6-2, 6-2. She only reached week two in Melbourne once, in 2021, but did not advance to the quarterfinals.

She will attempt to do so on Monday against Czech Linda Frohvertova (82nd) ​​or Marketa Vondrousova (86th).

Vekic has only played a quarter of a Grand Slam tournament, at the US Open in 2019.

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