Second seed Aryna Sabalenka will run into a Ukrainian opponent for the first time since the Russian invasion three months ago as she faces Lesia Tsurenko in a third-round match at the Indian Wells Masters.

Sabalenka, the second seeded Belarussian, started on Friday after a bye and demolished Evgeniya Rodina 6-2, 6-0 in 66 minutes.

With Belarus an ally of invader Russia, the match with Tsurenko could well get intense.

But Sabalenka, who beat Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk in Dubai last year the week before the invasion began, was having nothing of it:

“It’s going to be an interesting match,” she said, likely in hopes of avoiding controversy.

“She’s a great player, and it’s going to be a great battle. I will prepare myself as good as I can.

“I will make sure I can bring my best tennis and show my best tennis and make sure that people will again enjoy watching me.”

Sabalenka stands an impressive 14-1 this season after her 13-match win streak was ended last month in the Dubai final by Barbora Krejcikova, a Friday winner 6-1, 6-2 over Dayana Yastremska.

The second seed played down the severity of her beatdown of Rodina.

“It was a tricky match, I was struggling with adjusting for the balls, because it (the court) was super slow.

“Anyway, I’m super happy with this win in two sets without struggling too much.”


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