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US Open 2021: Aryna Sabalenka through despite thinking she had broken hand

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Second seed Aryna Sabalenka says she was “scared” she had broken her hand during her 6-3 6-1 victory over Tamara Zidansek in the US Open second round.

The Belarusian fell heavily in the opening set and iced her wrist and hand regularly during changeovers.

She recovered to beat Zidansek in an hour, setting up a third-round tie with American Danielle Collins.

Afterwards she said her hand was “getting bigger” and the bruising on her finger was “getting darker”.

“I was really scared that I broke it, it was really painful,” Sabalenka added.

“I’m really happy that I could finish this match. I have an extra day to see what’s going on and maybe to do the best recovery I can.”

Earlier on Wednesday, two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep made the most of a change in schedule to win her second-round match on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Romanian Halep, who has struggled with injuries this year, comfortably beat Slovakia’s Kristina Kucova 6-3 6-1 after she was moved from an outside court when defending champion Naomi Osaka was handed a walkover.

Playing under a roof, Halep was able to avoid the rain which interrupted several other matches on day three at Flushing Meadows.

“I was a little bit lucky to play here with the roof,” said the 12th seed, who will face Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan in the third round.

Nineteenth seed Rybakina beat Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia 6-1 6-4.

Osaka’s defence remains on course

Osaka’s defence of the US Open title continued after Serbian opponent Olga Danilovic pulled out of their second-round match because of a “non-Covid related viral illness”.

About an hour before the pair were set to walk out on Arthur Ashe Stadium, organisers announced Danilovic, 20, had withdrawn for medical reasons.

Japanese third seed Osaka, aiming to win a third US Open title in four years, will play Canada’s Leylah Fernandez in the third round on Friday.

It is her first Grand Slam event since pulling out of the French Open earlier this year, revealing she had “suffered long bouts of depression” since winning the 2018 US Open.

Stephens beats Gauff in all-American tie

In the evening’s all-American battle between 2017 champion Sloane Stephens and teenager Coco Gauff, it was the experienced 28-year-old who claimed victory.

Stephens won 6-4 6-2 in just over an hour as she used her forehand to great effect against Gauff, who was not at her best.

The 21st seed was broken late in the first set, before Stephens dealt another blow midway through the second, lining up a third-round tie with German 16th seed Angelique Kerber or Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina.

“I wanted to come out here and execute my game and I was able to do that well so I’m really happy,” Stephens said.

“I love Coco. I think everyone knows I love Coco. At the end of the match I told her that. I am so lucky to have seen her grow up since the age of about eight, to see how her game has really evolved and the person she has become.”

Seeds safely through to third round

Elsewhere, Spanish two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza defeated German Andrea Petkovic 6-4 6-2.

She will take on Victoria Azarenka in an eye-catching third-round tie after the Belarusian two-time major champion beat Italian Jasmine Paolini 6-3 7-6 (7-1).

Meanwhile, French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova sealed a dominant 6-3 6-1 win over American Christina McHale after their match was moved to Louis Armstrong stadium – which has a roof – after it was stopped by rain in the second set.

Ukrainian fifth seed Elina Svitolina beat Spaniard Rebeka Masarova 6-2 7-5 and will face Daria Kasatkina in the third round after the Russian defeated Czech Olympic silver medallist Marketa Vondrousova 3-6 6-4 6-4.

Source: BBC Sport

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