Azarenka holds for 2-2 in the first set against Keys. Both have started the match well, both striking the ball sweetly, and looking pretty evenly matched in the rallies.
Pavlyuchenkova has just walked off court for a medical timeout. If nothing else, that will interrupt Sabalenka’s rhythm: she was seeing it like a football in that second set, which she won 6-2.
It’s with serve in the Azarenka v Keys match, at 2-1 to Keys, although it’s 30-30 on Azarenka’s serve now.
Sabalenka takes the second set, 6-2. Pavlyuchenkova simply couldn’t live with her opponent’s power and precision during that set. Sabalenka lacked precision in the first set, but has certainly found her range now, and there is going to be plenty of work to do for Pavlyuchenkova now.
This is great to watch from Sabalenka, unless you are Pavlyuchenkova’s coach. Seemingly effortlessly she goes to 0-30 with a pass and a cleanly returned winner. And now to 0-40, three set points.
The quality of Sabalenka’s hitting is looking more and more ominous for Pavlyuchenkova now. Sabalenka holds for 5-2, peppering her opponent with powerful groundstrokes, including one superb clean winner on her forehand side.
An astonishingly good double-handed backhand return, which almost kisses the line right in the corner, creates two break points for Sabalenka. Pavlyuchenkova did not have a hope of getting close to that one. Sabalenka converts the first break point, and leads 4-2. She doesn’t over-celebrate, either, but looks quietly satisfied that her power hitting is starting to tell on the scoreboard.
A comfortable Sabalenka hold for 3-2 in the second set.
Meanwhile, Victoria Azarenka (15) and Madison Keys (23) are about to begin their third-round match on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
Pavlyuchenkova, who is certainly looking the more consistent player, holds for 2-2. Sabalenka’s power is unstoppable when she gets it right, and she it not hesitating to attack, but she is also making too many errors in comparison with her opponent at the moment.
Sabalenka puts away a forehand volley efficiently and holds comfortably for 2-1.
Sabalenka has started this second set with renewed focus and is hitting the ball with serious authority compared to the second half of that first set. She goes on the attack to try and save a game point at 40-30, but sends a forehand wide, and it’s 1-1.
Sabalenka holds serve impressively to open the second set, winning the first point with a cute drop-shot, and the second with another booming groundstroke to the baseline.
Rybakina and Vesnina are now 2-2 in the second set, after Rybakina took the first 6-1.
Over on Court 7, Katerina Siniakova took her first set against Tamara Zidansek 6-0, but Zidansek now leads 3-2 in the second.
Pavlyuchenkova moves in behind a first serve and volleys decisively to take the first set, 6-4. It was very much a set of two halves, with Sabalenka sprinting out of the blocks and into a 3-0 lead. But a catalogue of errors by the Belarusian handed the initiative to Pavlyuchenkova, who won five straight games and sealed the set comfortably in the end.
Unforced errors all over the place from Sabalenka. She dumps the first return of the game into the net, then sends a backhand long to gift Pavlyuchenkova a 30-0 advantage.
Sabalenka holds, sealing the game with a big serve that was called out by a line judge. The umps leaves his seat to take a look at the mark, and rules it good. However, the Russian Pavlyuchenkova will now serve for the first set, at 5-4.
A smart serve-volley from Pavlyuchenkova sees her save the break point, and she then takes the game for 5-3 in the first set. Sabalenka is clearly a bit frustrated with her game, and is occasionally venting her anger by winding up a huge forehand, or an unreasonably powerful second serve.
Pavlyuchenkova attempts a delicate drop-volley which would put her 40-0 up on her serve, but places it fractionally wide. Sabalenka forces it to 30-30, and then absolutely destroys a brilliantly powerful forehand down the line for a break point. Much more like it from the Russian.
Tennis – bloody hell! Pavlyuchenkova has now won four straight games and leads 4-3 in the first set. This one could get interesting.
It’s 3-3 and all square in the first set between Pavlyuchenkova and Sabalenka.
Sabalenka finds a couple of break points now, but the 29-year-old Pavlyuchenkova does well to bring it back to deuce in this sixth game of the first set. Our Eurosport commentator informs us that this is the 14th time Pavlyuchenkova has played at Roland Garros, which is quite a record.
Sabalenka now saves a game point with a few massive groundstrokes that wear Pavlyuchenkova down with sheer force … however, the Russian eventually finds a way.
And now Pavlyuchenkova finds a break of her oppenents serve, and is right back in this first set at 3-2.
Pavlyuchenkova is now on the board: it’s 3-1 in Sabalenka’s favour.
Elsewhere, Elena Rybakina (21) now leads Elena Vesnina 5-0 in their first set.
On Court Simonne Mathieu, Aryna Sabalenka (3) has raced into a 3-0 first-set lead against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (31). Sabalenka is the top-seeded player left in the women’s competition, following the withdrawals of Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka.
The debate on Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from this tournament rumbles on. Watch a video explainer, featuring the thoughts of our tennis reporter Tumaini Carayol, right here:
Yesterday we saw Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Iga Swiatek, among others, progress safely to the third round at Roland Garros, while the women’s world No 1, Ash Barty, was forced to retire from her match against Magda Linette with a hip injury. There was also a notable flare-up over slow play between Federer and his opponent Marin Cilic.
There was no shortage of action and drama on Thursday, so what will Friday bring? In the women’s singles, Victoria Azarenka faces Madison Keys from 11am, and Serena Williams will be on court at 3pm for a third-round match against compatriot Daniel Rose-Collins.
In the men’s singles, Alexander Zverev is due on court at 11.15am to meet Laslo Dere of Hungary, and two hours after that, Daniil Medvedev will face off against the American Reilly Opelka.
Those are just a few of the matches on today’s menu, which will no doubt be full of skill, intensity, super slow-motion replays, and frequent use of the towel. Let’s go!