Giorgi blasts Sabalenka in baseline battle

Big-hitting No.28 seed through to fourth round at Roland-Garros for the first time.

Camila Giorgi, Roland Garros 2022, third round© Cédric Lecocq/FFT
 - Chris Oddo

There was a paucity of long rallies and a surplus of jaw-dropping power over on Court Simonne-Mathieu on Saturday, as a pair of first-strike artists participated in a clay-court contest that was decidedly different from the norm.

In the end it would be No.28 seed Camila Giorgi who held sway over the proceedings, the Italian rallying from a set deficit to prevail over No.7 seed Aryna Sabalenka 4-6, 6-1, 6-0.

The 30-year-old Giorgi reaches the second week at Roland-Garros for the first time, and for the first time at a Slam since Wimbledon 2018.

Sabalenka's exit, coupled with third seed Paula Badosa's loss to Veronika Kudermetova via retirement, means that only one top-10 seed has advanced to the round of 16 on the women's side in Paris.

The victory marks Giorgi's first top-10 win at a Slam since 2013, her first ever top-10 win at Roland-Garros, and her first on clay since 2017.

She will face Russia's Daria Kasatkina, the No.20 seed, in the round of 16.

Camila Giorgi, Roland-Garros 2022, Simple Dames, 2eme TourJulien Crosnier / FFT

Story of the match

Trading barbaric baseline blows in a manner that most mere mortals only dream of, Sabalenka and Giorgi were quick to pull the trigger against one another - there were just three rallies of nine strokes or longer in the entire 44-minute first set, two of which were won by the world No.30 Italian.

Giorgi, who entered the match with a negative clay-court record (34-35), could not hold off Sabalenka in the set, however.

The No.7 seed broke in the all-important seventh game for a 4-3 lead, then closed out the opener with her sixth forehand winner of the set, 6-4.

If Sabalenka gained any confidence from winning the set it would quickly dissipate as the former world No.2 suddenly found herself without the ability to win points on serve.

She would win just four of 16 points in the second set, and Giorgi happily snagged three of five break points to run away with it.

The tone of the tilt forever changed, Giorgi's sprint continued in the third set, as Sabalenka could not produce any positivity from the service stripe.

The Italian continued her torrid pace of return, winning 14 of 19 return points and breaking three times on seven opportunities as she ran through the set without a blemish and closed her victory in one hour and 42 minutes.

Key stats

Giorgi's final two sets are worthy of being hung in the Louvre. There isn't a single stat that doesn't shine but her return stats are particularly noteworthy.

In the final two sets the Italian won 26 of 35 return points and broke Sabalenka's serve six times on 12 attempts.

Giorgi dominated Sabalenka's service points from the baseline, winning 17 of 18 of the points that went five strokes or longer in sets two and three (compared to one of eight in the opening set).

Giorgi was also efficient on serve, winning 78.1 percent of her serve plus one points, against 64.1 percent for Sabalenka.

Aryna Sabalenka, Camila Giorgi, Roland-Garros 2022, Simple Dames, 3eme TourCedric Lecocq / FFT

What the players said

Camila Giorgi: "I think that I adapted a little bit, I played very well, I played my game, aggressive - after that it worked."

"For me it's magic to play here. I love Paris, it's my favourite city and I'm extremely happy."