In the women’s draw at the Australian Open on day four, Aryna Sabalenka showed why she is a serious contender for the title by powering into the third round.
Also safely through was France’s fourth seed Caroline Garcia, a 7-6 (7/5), 7-5 winner over former US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez.
Belarus’s Sabalenka swept past 51st-ranked American Shelby Rogers 6-3, 6-1 in an hour and 27 minutes and faces 26th-seed Elise Mertens.
Sabalenka, who reached the semi-finals at the US Open last year, extended her 2023 unbeaten record to six matches. She won the recent Adelaide International without dropping a set.
It is a marked contrast to the start of last season when her serve completely deserted her, reducing her to tears during an Australian Open warm-up event.
Sabalenka served three aces against Rogers but, tellingly, no double faults. She talked openly about the hard work involved in turning her fortunes around.
“I worked a lot on my serve. You can’t even imagine,” she told reporters.
“Oh my God, I did, I think, almost everything to try to fix my serve.”
American qualifier Katie Volynets dumped out Russian world number nine Veronika Kudermetova.
The 21-year-old Volynets won 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 on Margaret Court Arena and then paid a heartfelt tribute to her extended family in war-ravaged Ukraine.
“It’s really a difficult…