World No.4 Aryna Sabalenka fell to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the third round of the French Open, leaving the tournament without its top three seeds in the women’s singles draw after Ashleigh Barty’s injury and Naomi Osaka’s mental health issues.
Pavlyuchenkova whitewashed Sabalenka in the third set to record a 6-4 2-6 6-0 victory and avenge her last month’s loss to the Belarusian in Madrid semifinals.
The 31st-seeded Pavlyuchenkova came from 3-0 down to take the first set. Sabalenka confidently won the second set without facing a break point and converting both her chances to take her opponent’s serve. In the decider, Sabalenka piled up 17 unforced errors to just six winners as Pavlyuchenkova dominated.
In the last 16, Pavlyuchenkova will meet 15th seed Victoria Azarenka, as the Belarusian defeated 23rd-seeded Madison Keys 6-2 6-2.
Fallen/missing seeds have opened up the draw
First, 2018 Roland Garros champion and third-ranked Simona Halep announced that she would miss the tournament because of a calf injury. Early into the Grand Slam, Naomi Osaka quit due to lack of understanding for her need to skip press conferences, while world No.1 Ashleigh Barty suffered a left hip injury. Seed No.11 Petra Kvitova hurt her ankle off the court, fulfilling her media duties, and was forced to withdraw as well.
As Sabalenka joined Karolina Pliskova, Bianca Andreescu and Belinda Bencic in the list of defeated Top 10 seeds, the draw has opened up considerably.
Seven-seeded Serena Williams is now the highest seed in the bottom half, which is guaranteed to have an unseeded quarterfinalist as Tamara Zidansek is set to face either Sorana Cirstea or Daria Kasatkina in the fourth round.
The highest seeds left in the top half of the draw are No.4 Sofia Kenin, No.5 Elina Svitolina and No.8 Iga Swiatek, who are all yet to play their third-round matches. (photos: Jimmie48)