PARIS (Agencies): Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina underlined why she is among the French Open favourites with a convincing win over rising Czech star Linda Noskova.
Kazakhstan’s Rybakina won 6-3 6-3 against the 18-year-old to move into the third round on the Paris clay.
Rybakina, 23, showed her ability on the red dirt by winning the Italian Open title last week and this was her eighth successive victory on the surface.
The fourth seed will play Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo in the last 32.
Rybakina is part of the emerging ‘big three’ on the WTA Tour, alongside Poland’s Iga Swiatek and Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka, with the trio having won the past four Grand Slam titles between them.
They are the leading players on the WTA Tour this season, although the Kazakh is still fourth in the 52-week rankings – behind American Jessica Pegula – after not receiving points for winning Wimbledon last year.
Rybakina reached the Australian Open final in January, losing to Sabalenka, but showed with the win against Noskova she looks capable of going far at Roland Garros.
Her best performance came in 2021 when she reached the quarter-finals. Top seed Swiatek, the defending champion, continues her bid for a third French Open title when she faces American world number 102 Claire Liu later on Thursday.
Sabalenka, 25, is already through to the third round, earning another straight-set win when she beat compatriot Iryna Shymanovich on Wednesday.
Casper Ruud through to third round
Fourth seed Casper Ruud moved into the French Open third round with a four-set victory over Italy’s Giulio Zeppieri. The Norwegian, 24, was in control early on and after being forced into a fourth set, he rallied to secure a 6-3 6-2 4-6 7-5 win.
Ruud is chasing a first Grand Slam title after losing in the finals at the US Open and Roland Garros last year. He will face Argentine Thiago Agustin Tirante or Zhang Zhizhen of China in the next round.
After breaking early in the first two sets, Ruud struggled for rhythm in the third and a fired-up Zeppieri won it with his first break of the match.
Ruud got the break in the fourth and, serving for the match for the second time, sealed the win in three hours and four minutes.
German 22nd seed Alexander Zverev, a semi-finalist for the past two years, is in action later on Thursday when he takes on Slovakia’s Alex Molcan in the night match on court Philippe Chatrier – the same venue where he made such a painful exit last year when an ankle injury forced him to retire from his semi-final against Rafael Nadal.
Americans Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe, the ninth and 12th seeds respectively, also have second-round matches on Thursday.