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Overdue Sabalenka on verge of breakthrough at Wimbledon

By AP | Jul 2, 2021

Belarus's Aryna Sabalenka celebrates winning a point against Colombia's Maria Camila Osorio Serrano during the women's singles third round match on day five of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Friday July 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — No. 2-seeded Aryna Sabalenka is into the second week at Wimbledon and on the verge of a career breakthrough.

The hard-hitting Belarusian beat qualifier María Camila Osorio Serrano 6-0, 6-3 Friday to reach the fourth round, and she might be overdue for a deep run in a Grand Slam. Sabalenka is the only woman among the top 20 seeds who has yet to reach a major quarterfinal.

The time seems right for that to change: Sabalenka leads the tour with 32 match wins this year, her seeding is a career high in a major, and she’s navigating a draw already without eight of the 11 highest-ranked women.

“I just keep working, keep improving,” Sabalenka said. “Every match is a new match. You never know what is going to happen.”

She overpowered Osorio Serrano, and pulled away when the Colombian went 0 for 6 converting break points in the first set.

“So many chances,” Osorio Serrano said. “I couldn’t close it.”

Sabalenka next faces No. 18 Elena Rybakina, who eliminated American Shelby Rogers 6-1, 6-4.

Also still in contention is No. 7-seeded Iga Świ…tek, the 2020 French Open champion, who breezed into the fourth round by beating Irina-Camelia Begu 6-1, 6-0. Świ…tek seeks a Wimbledon double after winning the girls’ singles title in 2018.

“It would be amazing,” she said. “It’s another Grand Slam, so it’s like a dream come true for any of us.”

Wild card Liudmila Samsonova of Russia reached the round of 16 at a major for the first time by beating American Sloane Stephens 6-2, 2-6, 6-4. No. 8 Karolina Pliskova swept Tereza Martincová 6-3, 6-3.

In men’s play, No. 25 Karen Khachanov won 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 against American Frances Tiafoe, who upset No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets in the first round.

No. 5 Andrey Rublev hit 13 aces and beat No. 26 Fabio Fognini 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2. No. 1 Novak Djokovic was scheduled to face American qualifier Denis Kudla.

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