Aryna Sabalenka in action during US Open© AFP
Second seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus swatted aside France’s Clara Burel to power into the last 16 of the US Open on Saturday. Sabalenka — who defeated Burel in straight sets at the same stage of the tournament last year — once again had too much power for 62nd-ranked Burel, winning 6-1, 6-1 in a 60-minute masterclass. The Belarusian right-hander will now face either Russia’s Daria Kasatkina or Belgium’s Greet Minnen on Monday for a place in the quarter-finals. Sabalenka, who achieved a breakthrough maiden Grand Slam victory at the Australian Open earlier this year, could replace Poland’s Iga Swiatek at the top of the world rankings if she betters her rival’s performance in New York.
The 25-year-old from Minsk, beaten by Swiatek in the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows last year, once again signalled she is ready for a deep run in the tournament with a clinical performance on Saturday.
The Belarusian’s reliable first serve and heavier groundstrokes overwhelmed Burel, whose own problems on serve were punished ruthlessly by Sabalenka.
Sabalenka sent down a stream of 21 winners to Burel’s six, breaking the French woman four times en route to a straightforward win.
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