US Open 2023
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Dates: 28 August-10 September
Coverage: Daily live text and radio commentaries across the BBC Sport website, app, BBC Radio 5 Live and 5 Sports Extra
Aryna Sabalenka and Jessica Pegula – ranked second and third in the world – both won to progress to the fourth round of the US Open.
Belarusian second seed Sabalenka needed just 60 minutes to cruise to a 6-1 6-1 victory over France’s Clara Burel on Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Later on Arthur Ashe, American Pegula fought off a comeback from Ukrainian Elina Svitolina to win 6-4 4-6 6-2.
The third seed will face compatriot Madison Keys in the fourth round.
Tunisian fifth seed Ons Jabeur faces Czech player Marie Bouzkova on Arthur Ashe Stadium later on Saturday, while Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova plays Ekaterina Alexandrova on Louis Armstrong.
Having reached the quarter-finals of the French Open on her return to Grand Slam tennis after having a baby, Svitolina went one better at Wimbledon by reaching the last four but was unable to replicate that success on the hard courts in New York.
The Ukrainian struggled to combat Pegula’s composure in the opening set and looked uncomfortable at times, shaking her head, waving her racquet around and crying out in frustration.
Pegula entertained her home crowd by hitting three aces in one game and needed just one break of serve to calmly take the opener.
Very little separated the two once again in the second set until Svitolina sprang to life in the 10th game, breaking the American with her third set point when Pegula’s shot sailed out of court to force a decider.
Svitolina looked more confident in the final set but it was Pegula who won six straight points to hold her serve before nailing a cross-court forehand winner to break Svitolina in the fifth game.
The 26th seed saved break point two games later but could not keep Pegula at bay as the American broke again before serving out the match.
Pegula has reached the quarter-finals of six Grand Slam tournaments without going beyond the last eight but will look to break that run should she overcome countrywoman Keys in round four.
Earlier on Saturday, 17th seed Keys came from behind to become the second American woman to progress to the fourth round after Coco Gauff with a 5-7 6-2 6-2 victory over Russia’s Liudmila Samsonova.
Svitolina to take a break after successful year
If someone had told Svitolina at the beginning of the year that she would have deep runs at Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same year as returning to the sport after giving birth last year, she may not have believed them.
The former world number three had targeted getting back in the top 100 when she returned to the court in March and she managed that in just a few months.
“I didn’t expect for myself such a high level at Wimbledon. At Roland Garros, as well, I played really solid,” she said.
“In general, I’m very happy with the tournaments that I played, and with the season, I’m close to the top 20.”
While Svitolina said she was “disappointed” with the third-round loss at Flushing Meadows, she added she would use the early exit as an opportunity to take some time off and spend time with her daughter.
“I just want to take some time off right now to recover physically and go again. I don’t know how much time off I will take but I’m going to see what the doctors are going to suggest,” said the Ukrainian, who had strapping on her right ankle.
“I didn’t see my daughter for long time now, so I’m really looking forward to going back home.”
Sabalenka cruises past Burel
Since winning the Australian Open earlier this year, Sabalenka has enjoyed runs to the semi-finals of the French Open and Wimbledon and will replace Iga Swiatek as world number one if she progresses further than defending champion Iga Swiatek in New York.
The Wimbledon semi-finalist has cruised through her opening-round matches without dropping a set and it was a familiar story against 62-ranked Burel.
Sabalenka broke at the first time of asking and never looked back, hitting 22 winners in an impressive outing and breaking to love to seal the win.
She will face 13th seed Daria Kasatkina in the next round after the Russian beat Belgium‘s Greet Minnen 6-3 6-4.
Wozniacki ‘inspiration’ to Sabalenka
Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki will continue her dream run at the US Open on Sunday against American sixth seed Gauff (not before 19:00 BST) and 25-year-old Sabalenka says the Dane’s return has been an “inspiration”.
Wozniacki, 33, retired in 2020 and had two children before returning to the court in August, reaching the second week at Flushing Meadows in her first Grand Slam back.
“I think it’s amazing,” Sabalenka said. “She was out for three and a half years, having two kids, and came back and [is] still playing her best.
“I feel like if you have this level you will never lose it. It gives so much belief to me if one day I would like to go for a baby, I’ll have some chances to come back. She’s just such an inspiration and I’m really happy for her.”
American 17th seed Keys agreed, saying Wozniacki has “bounced back really quickly” and that her return is “incredibly impressive”.