French Open 2023: Aryna Sabalenka to face Sloane Stephens in Paris night session

French Open 2023: Aryna Sabalenka to face Sloane Stephens in Paris night session
_129984704_gettyimages-1258373059.jpgAryna Sabalenka is seeking a second successive Grand Slam titleDates: 28 May-11 June Venue: Roland Garros, ParisCoverage: Live text on selected matches, plus radio commentary from 15:00 BST on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra, the BBC Sport website and app, from 16:00 on BBC Radio 5 live and the night session on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra, the BBC Sport website and app

World number two Aryna Sabalenka will face Sloane Stephens under the lights as women's tennis is showcased in the 2023 French Open's prime night session for the first time on Sunday.

Organisers at Roland Garros have come under fire after all six night matches of this year's tournament so far were selected from the men's draw.

In 2022, only one of the 10 night matches involved female players, with tournament director Amelie Mauresmo saying at the time that men's matches had more "appeal".

When asked earlier in the week about the inequality, American Stephens said: "That's not what we're about."

Seventh seed Ons Jabeur, speaking after her third-round match on Saturday, said it was "high time to put a night session with a female match".

"I hope that the stadium will be full tomorrow, because there are two excellent and incredible players who will be playing." Jabeur said of the Stephens-Sabalenka match.

"It is going to be an extraordinary match."

Unseeded Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion, faces a tough fourth-round challenge against Belarusian Sabalenka, who is chasing a second successive Grand Slam title after winning in Australia in January and has yet to drop a set.

In three previous meetings, Sabalenka has never lost to Stephens although she has been pushed to three sets on every occasion.

Sunday's encounter will mark Sabalenka's first foray into the fourth round at Roland Garros but Stephens has more experience on the Paris clay, having reached the final in 2018 and made the quarter-finals twice since.

Elsewhere in the women's draw as the second week of action gets under way, Russian ninth seed Daria Kasatkina faces Ukraine's Elina Svitolina third on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

Former world number three Svitolina, playing in her first Grand Slam since giving birth, has beaten Kasatkina in all six of their previous meetings but they have not played since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

She will not shake hands with Kasatkina at the end of the match but has paid tribute to her opponent for being "really brave" in previously criticising Russia's invasion.

"I'm thankful to Dasha for taking this position," said Svitolina, who is vying to reach the Roland Garros quarter-finals for a fourth time.

Varillas 'facing one of the greatest players'

_129984708_gettyimages-1258389669.jpgNovak Djokovic won the French Open title in 2016 and 2021

Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz headline the day session on Court Philippe Chatrier, with Serbian third seed Djokovic continuing his quest for a record 23rd Grand Slam men's singles title against Peru's Juan Pablo Varillas.

Two-time French Open champion Djokovic, 36, conceded he was playing with "many injuries" after his third-round battle with Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, but his opponent, nine years his junior, is under no illusions as to the challenge ahead.

"I'll be facing one of the greatest players in history. I will try to win," said Varillas, the first Peruvian man to make the fourth round in Paris since Jamie Yzaga in 1994.

"When you enter the court the chances are 50-50, it's one against one."

World number one Alcaraz will follow Djokovic on to Roland Garros' showcase court for what, on paper, looks to be a tougher battle against Italian 17th seed Lorenzo Musetti.

Musetti eased past Britain's Cameron Norrie in three sets in the previous round and has the upper hand over his Spanish opponent, winning their only previous meeting which came on the Hamburg clay last year.

US Open champion Alcaraz, 20, said: "It's a big challenge for me. He's playing great. He has beaten really tough players, he's a really talented player."

What else is happening on Sunday?

Confidence will be high for 28th seed Elise Mertens after her two-set upset win over third seed Jessica Pegula on Friday and the Belgian will be hoping it can carry her through to the French Open quarter-finals for the first time when she faces Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova first up on Court Philippe Chatrier.

At the same time another Russian, Karen Khachanov, kickstarts the action on Court Suzanne Lenglen, the 11th seed taking on Italian Lorenzo Sonego - who came from two sets down to defeat seventh seed Andrey Rublev in the previous round - for a place in the last eight.

Later, Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas faces Sebastian Ofner of Austria as the 2021 finalist looks to improve on last year's fourth-round finish.

From a British perspective, Lloyd Glasspool and Jamie Murray are in doubles action, with fifth seeds Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara of Finland taking on Dutch-German 12th seeds Matwe Middelkoop and Andreas Mies for a place in the quarter-finals.

Murray's last hopes of success in Paris lie in the mixed doubles after he was eliminated from the men's doubles on Saturday, with he and American partner Taylor Townsend taking on Canada's Gabriela Dabrowski and Nathaniel Lammons of the United States.


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