French Open: Aryna Sabalenka ousts Paula Badosa after best friend's shocking collapse

Sabalenka was on the verge of losing the first set but then went on to beat Badosa in two sets.

by Dzevad Mesic
French Open: Aryna Sabalenka ousts Paula Badosa after best friend's shocking collapse
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Aryna Sabalenka has won the battle between two best friends after ousting Paula Badosa, while Elena Rybakina routinely progressed into the French Open round-of-16.

Sabalenka, seeded at No. 2, experienced some difficulties early in the match against Badosa but still ended up claiming a straight-set 7-5 6-1 win over the former world No. 2. 

The deciding moment of the match came late in the first set and early in the second set - Badosa led 5-3 in the first set before losing the next eight games. After such a collapse, there was just no coming back for Badosa.

Now, Sabalenka plays in the French Open round-of-16 against an American - either Madison Keys or Emma Navarro.

Meanwhile, No. 4 seed Rybakina ousted 25th-seeded Mertens 6-4 6-2 to set up a round-of-16 meeting against either Elina Svitolina or Ana Bogdan.

How Sabalenka made it past Badosa?

The first set between Sabalenka and Badosa was full of ups and downs as Sabalenka started the match with a break before Badosa responded with two breaks on her own to go 4-2 up. Sabalenka then managed to get the break back in the seventh game but Badosa earned another break in the eighth game to open a 5-3 lead and give herself a chance to serve out for the first set.

Just when it seemed that the momentum was again on Badosa's side, the Spanish former world No. 2 suffered a stunning collapse as she lost her serve in four consecutive games as Sabalenka went on to open a 7-5 4-0 lead after winning eight games in a row.

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka © Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene

In the fifth game of the second set, Badosa finally managed to hold to one of her service games again. However, it didn't change much as Sabalenka served out the next game for a 5-1 lead before breaking Badosa again in the following game to seal her win.

How Rybakina overcame Mertens?

Rybakina got off to a shaky start to the match as Mertens was twice up by a break in the first set. However, Rybakina twice managed to get the breaks back and the two players were tied to four games through the opening eight games of the match.

Then after twice recovering from a break down, Rybakina served out the ninth game for a 5-4 lead before breaking Mertens in the 10th game to take the first set.

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

After surviving a scare in the first set and going up by a set, Rybakina broke Mertens in the fourth and eighth games to routinely complete a straight-set win.

French Open Aryna Sabalenka Paula Badosa