Tennis-No handshakes as Sabalenka downs Ukraine’s Tsurenko in third round

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MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka blocked out the political overtones of her third-round match against Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko at the Australian Open on Friday to ease into the second week of the Grand Slam with an easy 6-0 6-0 victory.


Sabalenka was last scheduled to face the Ukrainian at Indian Wells last year but Tsurenko withdrew after suffering a panic attack when talking with officials about tennis’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, for which Belarus was used as a staging ground.

Reigning champion and second seed Sabalenka is playing at Melbourne Park without official national affiliation under conditions imposed on Russian and Belarusian players by tournament organisers since the invasion.


The match itself was a one-sided affair played out in a muted atmosphere on Rod Laver Arena as Sabalenka ruthlessly handed 28th seed Tsurenko the dreaded “double bagel” in 52 minutes.

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