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Aryna Sabalenka laughs off serving slump to reach Australian Open fourth round

Aryna Sabalenka was able to laugh about her service struggles after battling through to the fourth round of the Australian Open.

The world number two has served 80 double faults during her first five matches of the season but is at least happy that the numbers are heading in the right direction.

She said after beating Marketa Vondrousova 4-6 6-3 6-1: “I’m really happy right now, and mostly really happy that I made only 10 double faults.”

Sabalenka has had to come from a set down in all three of her matches in Melbourne so far but is trying not to worry about her serving issues.

“I’m just trying to stay positive, and it’s working,” she said. “I wasn’t really thinking a lot about my serve. Maybe because the last matches I was able to break a lot of games. It gives me a little confidence on the returning games. That’s why maybe I served better today.”

Sabalenka will next face unseeded Estonian Kaia Kanepi, who was a 2-6 6-2 6-0 winner over Australian wild card Maddison Inglis.

France’s Alize Cornet followed up her big win over third seed Garbine Muguruza by defeating 29th seed Tamara Zidansek 4-6 6-4 6-2 on her 32nd birthday.

Cornet, who revealed after beating Muguruza that it could be her last season on tour, last reached the fourth round here 13 years ago and has never gone further at a slam.

“I don’t want to think about this quarter-final because I have the feeling it’s getting a little like an obsession,” she said.

“I don’t want it to be an obsession. I’m enjoying so much my run here so far. I want to fill my heart with all this energy without thinking I might get finally my quarter-final that I’m looking for for the past 15 years.”

She next faces former finalist Simona Halep, who struggled with injury last year but has impressed so far and eased past Emma Raducanu’s conqueror Danka Kovinic 6-2 6-1.

Simona Halep is enjoying her run in Melbourne Simona Halep is enjoying her run in Melbourne (Simon Baker/AP)

“I feel great physically first of all,” said the Romanian. “Mentally I’m confident and also strong, I would say. Feeling the game. Feeling joy out there. I think that helps me to be positive and to be confident that I have a chance every time I step on the court.”

Seventh seed Iga Swiatek has been in dominant form at Melbourne Park and the Pole eased through to round four with a 6-2 6-3 win over Daria Kasatkina.

Danielle Collins held off a stern challenge from Danish teenager Clara Tauson, who knocked out sixth seed Anett Kontaveit in round two, fighting back to win 4-6 6-4 7-5.

In the last 16, the American will take on 19th seed Elise Mertens, who saw off Zhang Shuai 6-2 6-2.

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