Melbourne. World No. 5 Aryna Sabalenka’s winning start to the year continued on Thursday as she defeated floater Shelby Rogers to reach the third round of the 2023 Australian Open. Sabalenka posted a 6–3, 6–1 win over Rogers to advance to the third round for the third straight year at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne. In a match that lasted one hour and 27 minutes, he hit 32 winners, almost twice as many as Rogers’ 17.
The 24-year-old has started the year on a 6-0 record, having won the Adelaide International 1 earlier this month. It is the second time in the last three years that Sabalenka has won her first six matches of the season, having done so in 2021 as well.
In the second set, Sabalenka saved a break point with a backhand winner to level the score at 1-1. From here he had no trouble and won the set 6-1 to enter the next round. Sabalenka will face her former regular doubles partner, No. 26 seed Elise Mertens, in the third round.
Mertens of Belgium defeated Lauren Davis of America 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 12 minutes. He ended Davis’ eight-match winning streak, having won the Hobart title the previous week as a qualifier.
Mertens has performed well at the Australian Open, reaching the semi-finals in her main draw debut at the event in 2018. The Belgian has reached the third round or better in all six of his main draw appearances in Melbourne.
However, Sabalenka leads 6–2 in their singles rivalry. In their most recent encounter, Sabalenka defeated Mertens 6-4, 6-1 in the round of 16 at the 2021 US Open.
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